Climate clippings 229

Climate stories continue to float across my viewing zone, especially lately in the New Scientist, which for us is loo reading. NS articles are usually pay-walled, so I’ll try catch up a bit.

1. There’ll be a domino effect as we trigger ecosystem tipping points

Massive icebergs are one sign that change is on the way
NASA/ Brooke Medley

There are lots of tipping points in ecosystems and the climate, and many are interconnected. That means the massive changes we are wreaking will have many unexpected consequences.

“The world is a much more surprising place then generally assumed,” says Garry Peterson of the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden. As an example, in 2016 the retreat of a glacier in Canada led to a river changing direction.

Peterson’s team has analysed 300 ecosystems with potential tipping points or regime changes. For instance, as rainfall increases grasslands can suddenly turn into forests, and vice versa.

The study suggests that almost half of them are linked.

For example, more extreme rainfall can greatly increase soil erosion, which then carries more phosphorus into rivers, lakes and the sea. This can trigger algal blooms and red tides, and lead to bigger “dead zones”, which then cause further knock-on effects.

The team’s work shows that:

    crossing one tipping point increases the risk of crossing another and so triggering a whole cascade of effects. And we may not even recognise the danger until it is too late, Peterson says.

A big one is Antarctica, which they say is past its tipping point, linking to another article which says:

    It’s too late to stop the seas rising at least 5 metres and only fast, drastic action will avert a 20-metre rise, New Scientist calculates based on recent studies.

We just don’t know whether it will take centuries or millennia.

That article was dated 10 June, 2015 and relies on studies published in 2013.

2. The Great Barrier Reef is fighting back by losing weak species

When Terry Hughes and colleagues at James Cook University flew over the reef to visually assess the level of coral bleaching they found that in 2017 less bleaching occurred than in 2016 even though the reef was exposed to more extreme temperatures in 2017:

    It took about twice the amount of heat stress – for example the same elevated temperature but for twice as long – to cause the same level of damage in the second year as in the first, they calculated (Nature Climate Change, doi.org/cxsw).

    One reason may be that corals are gradually adapting to the warmer climate by switching on different genes or other biochemical mechanisms, says Hughes, but this needs to be experimentally verified.

    Another reason may be that the corals that survived the first heatwave were tougher species, meaning they were better able to cope with the second assault, says Hughes. His team previously found that dome-shaped corals were more likely to survive after the 2016 heatwave than branched and table corals.

The thinking is that there will likely be a reef in 50 years time, but it will be very different.

3. Huge 30-kilometre wide meteorite crater found under Greenland glacier

    A giant meteorite crater that has turned up under the Greenland ice sheet may hold clues to a mini ice age some 13,000 years ago.

    An international team found the 30-kilometre-wide feature using NASA radar data. It would have been made by a meteorite about 1 kilometre across.

    A river draining from under the ice covering the crater is washing out sediment particles with a telltale internal structure that results from a brief shock wave. “They’re absolutely characteristic of impact,” says team member Iain McDonald at Cardiff University, UK.

It’s under the ice, so they can’t actually date it. While it could be up to 3 million years old it would make a neat fit with the sudden cooling event known as the Younger Dryas, a sudden cooling event from about 12,900 BP to about 12,700.

From an article in The Independent:

Map of the bedrock topography beneath the ice sheet and the ice-free land surrounding the Hiawatha impact crater

That’s bigger than Paris.

4. Environmentalists must embrace nuclear power to stem climate change

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has decided to drop its long-standing opposition to nuclear power. Their report is here. Other environmentalists should too, says Mark Lynas.

The UCS is not pushing for new nuclear, rather concerned that old ones are likely to be shut down in the US, undercut by cheap fossil fuels, especially gas from fracking. They point to Germany, where coal is lingering longer because Merkel made a (dumb) decision to shut down nukes after Fukushima under political pressure from greenies and The Green Party.

5. Zero emissions plane takes off

This plane produces thrust through an electric field. Steven Barrett, MIT

This plane uses no fuel at all:


    Instead of propellers or jet engines, the plane uses electrodes on its wings to produce ions that push against the surrounding air. The team claims the plane is quieter and cleaner than any other powered aircraft.

    Electrodes are used to create an electric discharge that produces electrically charged atoms or molecules in the air. An electric field then accelerates these ions towards the back of the plane. Collisions with air molecules produce a thrust force in the opposite direction, pushing the plane forwards.

The plane produces more thrust per unit of power than a standard jet engine. But before you get too excited, it has only flown for 12 seconds, the same as the Wright Bros managed first up, managing 55 metres inside a sports hall. The plane flew at 5 metres per second compared to the 200 metres per second or more of a modern jetliner.

The plane was remote-controlled and weighed only 2.45 kg. They reckon the may have something useful in about 30 years.

6. EU fights air industry over climate action

Aviation generates more than 2 per cent of CO2 globally, with emissions set to double before 2050. Most countries are doing nothing about it, as aviation emissions are excluded from UN climate agreements. EU nations are an exception, as aviation fuel is subject to a carbon tax as part of a carbon trading scheme.

However, the EU carbon tax is not very effective.

    In 2016, industry body the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) finally came up with up with its own plan. Rather than limit future emissions, however, the proposed Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), involves offsetting them …

However:

    offsetting is ineffective. A 2017 EU report concluded that 85 per cent of UN schemes had not delivered the promised reductions.

The EU can only control what happens within their borders. They want the 150 megatonnes of CO2 produced in their patch to reduce to 110 by 2030. The ICAO approach would see them increase to 210.

So the matter is currently unresolved. Meanwhile Indonesia plans to make jet fuel out of palm oil, which is just disastrous, especially for orangutans.

Growing palm has a huge impact on the Indonesian landscape. Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images

161 thoughts on “Climate clippings 229”

  1. Climate scientists, in my opinion, have shot themselves in the foot with their continued use of inconclusive terms such as “may”, “could”, “if”, “coming centuries”. These are terms of doubt that denialists feed hungrilly on. Where there is demonstrable and absolute proof simply because it is way too late and the damage is hitting tipping points such as the Arctic Ice Volume and the Permafrost and the language has dropped the if buts and maybe’s, the denialist completely drop that impact and move onto an area where the science is still being developed.

    Scientists, we all know what is going to happen, the only thing we don’t know is the exact day. So what are denialist’s tactics now? Attack the person of course,

    https://vtdigger.org/2018/12/04/sanders-campaign-drops-300k-on-private-jet-travel/

    ….that is despite the fact that the fuel a small private jet uses is a tiny fraction of the fuel that, say, Donald Trump’s plane uses just taxiing.

    Drop last decade’s “debate” termilogy, people.

  2. Bilb: Basically, the scientific method says that we can “disprove but never prove.”
    Problem is that if a scientist starts making more assertive statements that person’s scientific credibility drops. Particularly true when we are talking about modelling something as complicated as the climate.
    Perhaps we should be talking more aggressively about risk assessment and outcome. Some of us might want to say that the end of the world as we know it is more important than the decline in the Central Qld coal industry.
    I care about the future of my grandchildren.

  3. Brian: The simplest way to reduce air travel emissions is to reduce the need. Ask yourself how much air travel is really needed. do we really need cherries from the USA in winter? how many meetings really do need physical face to face?
    How many fly in fly out jobs could be done by remote operators working close to home.
    Many of the trouble shooting jobs I flew to in the past I would do now by linking into control systems from home.
    It is also technically feasible to reduce air travel emissions by switching the air industry to renewable fuels such as renewable Jet A fuel without becoming dependent on bio-fuels with all the environmental damage or loss of food producing land.
    Other renewable fuels that don’t require CO2 for their manufacture may also become practical at some time in the future.
    Battery powered commercial aircraft
    are also starting to become a reality for shorter flights. (Google battery powered aircraft if you want more.)

  4. John, when I went to Europe for the first time in 2008 I was shocked by the rivers of people travelling by air. We flew from Nuremberg to Frankfurt, landed and then had a 10 minute bus ride to the terminal.

    Coming home on the leg from Vancouver to Auckland we were sitting near a girls school sporting team coming over here for some sporting event.

    I don’t think travelling less is going to be the answer. More likely some kind of synthetic carbon neutral fuel.

  5. What you say about the scientific method is a good point, but ever since the Stern Review in 2006 many scientists have been intentionally trying not to scare politicians, because they think if they tell the truth to pollies will just give up, or not engage.

    At first they said 550ppm would be OK. There really has been no excuse since James Hansen delivered his 350 ppm answer to Bill McKibben’s question in December 2007 to 25,000 scientists at the American Geophysical Union conference.

    Many scientists say they are optimistic because they are optimistic and they feel better that way, rather than admit the truth.

  6. Brian, I am inclined to agree on air travel, It is one thing that we need to maintain as a “necessity” while still attempting to bring aviation CO2 emissions down. I am in favour of palm oil but not where it means ripping out existing rain forest to achieve it. There are other ways of growing palms, and there are other fuel production technologies. Air travel is more fuel efficient than care travel point to point and is only defeated where a car is fully loaded with people and luggage. There are a lot of perspectives with which to consider this.

    Tip toeing around politicians is a cave in. It amounts to State funding of terrorism where the terrorists are no foundation business CEO’s. In the end the politicians effectively took no action so that approach was a fail.

  7. Brian: When we started talking about climate change the actions required were all expensive and the science case was relatively weak. Now climate action can be justified by reduced and the deniers now look sillier and sillier.
    Part of the reason why the LNP is on the nose is their ill informed blocking of climate action.

  8. Bilb: Land travel is becoming more and more renewable. Making long distance travel renewable is more challenging but not impossible to achieve without the use of bio-fuels.

  9. An optimistic overview of progress towards more renewable power use in Australia, by Simon Holmes a Court in the Guardian Australia.

    He reiterates some points that posters here have mentioned.

  10. JohnD, you are correct. I relish the thought of buying a Hyundai Ioniq plug in hybrid at aroung $45,000. It sounds like a lot, and for a young family paying off a $1,000,000 house it might be a cost to far (but look at that cost ratio and think back 30 years). But considering that I could drive that car virtually fuel free for the next 15 years (60 klm battery only range charged from the batteries on the factory roof for my daily 35klm roundtrip commute) the cost would come down to $3000 per year for access to reliable silent transport (plus tyres of course). A trip to Melbourne though would require fuel and that is the one we are comparing to air travel.

    On the aviation end the plan is to further reduce fuel consumption with hybrid turbo electric aircraft which use full turbine power plus battery fuelled electric for the takeoff and climb tubo electric power for the cruise (less than half the power required) and windmill electric energy claw back to recharge batteries during the decent, for an overall fuel demand reduction of ( I can’t find a figure right now).

  11. John Davidson (Re: JANUARY 1, 2019 AT 2:58 PM)

    It is also technically feasible to reduce air travel emissions by switching the air industry to renewable fuels such as renewable Jet A fuel without becoming dependent on bio-fuels with all the environmental damage or loss of food producing land.

    Is it really, John? Still flogging this technology as if it’s all done and dusted?

    What’s your evidence that this is a cost-effective, cost-competitive, rapidly deployable technology that can readily displace the petroleum oil industry? The article you refer to in your post was dated 10 April 2014 – more than four and a half years ago – what developments/progress have happened since? Ah, yes, that would be doing a “mindless” data and reference search. So much easier to assume everything is ‘hunky dory’? No worries or disappointments then, eh?

  12. GM:

    What’s your evidence that this is a cost-effective, cost-competitive, rapidly deployable technology that can readily displace the petroleum oil industry?

    I said it is technically feasible, not commercially competitive so pls stop putting words into my mouth. All the steps in the process have been commercially available for years.
    The REnew Economy article that was the starting point for the renewable fuel thinking and the follow up article on the topic referred to in the climate+ article provide more links on the topic.
    On the general topic I am starting to see articles that talk about the production of renewable ammonia as a mechanism for transporting solar energy to places like south Korea that haven’t got the space to generate renewable power. (The proposals involve splitting the ammonia to provide the fuel for hydrogen powered transport. Current thinking is that future road transport needs will use battery EVs for short range and hydrogen carried in carbon fibre tanks for longer hauls.

  13. John Davidson (Re: JANUARY 3, 2019 AT 1:13 PM)

    I said it is technically feasible, not commercially competitive so pls stop putting words into my mouth. All the steps in the process have been commercially available for years.

    You have stated “not commercially competitive” – they are your words; not mine – so why do you keep plugging hydro-carbon “electro-fuels” as if they are commercially competitive, or soon will be?

    The REnew Economy article that was the starting point for the renewable fuel thinking and the follow up article on the topic referred to in the climate+ article provide more links on the topic.

    The RenewEconomy article you link to (presumably that’s your article) is dated 12 March 2013 and the follow-up article (also yours) is dated 30 March 2013. Is your thinking stuck in 2013? What, no promising developments since 2013? I think it’s reasonable for me to ask you why you keep plugging this technology as if it is “technically feasible to reduce air travel emissions by switching the air industry to renewable fuels such as renewable Jet A fuel without becoming dependent on bio-fuels with all the environmental damage or loss of food producing land.” They are your words, John; not mine.

    If you wish to continue to delude yourself on this issue, that’s your business, but when you try to delude others into your line of thinking then I will challenge it.

    What’s your evidence that hydro-carbon “electro-fuels” (exclude “renewable ammonia” and/or Hydrogen) are cost-effective, cost-competitive, rapidly deployable technologies that can readily displace the petroleum oil industry? If it’s not cost-effective/cost-competitive then it’s not feasible (“technically” or otherwise). I’m after facts, not your baseless assumptions.

  14. BilB (Re: JANUARY 1, 2019 AT 10:13 AM)

    Climate scientists, in my opinion, have shot themselves in the foot with their continued use of inconclusive terms such as “may”, “could”, “if”, “coming centuries”. These are terms of doubt that denialists feed hungrilly on.

    BilB, it’s called “scholarly reticence”. From What Lies Beneath: The Understatement of Climate Risk by David Spratt & Ian Dunlop, dated Aug 2018, on page 8 (bold text my emphasis):

    A 2013 study by Prof. Naomi Oreskes and fellow researchers examined a number of past predictions made by climate scientists. They found that scientists have been “conservative in their projections of the impacts of climate change” and that “at least some of the key attributes of global warming from increased atmospheric greenhouse gases have been under-predicted, particularly in IPCC assessments of the physical science”. They concluded that climate scientists are not biased toward alarmism but rather the reverse of “erring on the side of least drama, whose causes may include adherence to the scientific norms of restraint, objectivity, skepticism, rationality, dispassion, and moderation”. This may cause scientists “to underpredict or downplay future climate changes”.[4]

    This tallies with the view of economist Prof. Ross Garnaut, who in 2011 reflected on his experience in presenting two climate reports to the Australian Government. Garnaut questioned whether climate research had a conservative “systematic bias” due to “scholarly reticence”. He pointed to a pattern across diverse intellectual fields of research predictions being “not too far away from the mainstream” expectations and observed that in the climate field that this “has been associated with understatement of the risks”.[5]

    For scientists, reputation is everything, so most are cautious about sticking their necks out too far. Is it any different in other disciplines? So why are you blaming them? Shouldn’t most of the blame be directed at the fossil fuel industry and it’s disinformation campaigns?

  15. Posted yesterday in the SMH is an article headlined National records melt in ‘prolonged spell of heat’ with more to come by Peter Hannam. It begins with:

    A huge swathe of Australia baked in mid-40 degree heat on Friday, with more records likely to be broken at the tail-end of a heatwave that set a slew of national highs last month.

    The mercury was tipped to reach at least 45 degrees over a region stretching from northern Western Australia into Victoria and the NSW Riverina.

    Also yesterday in the SMH by Peter Hannam; ‘Bit of a panic’ as roasting outback NSW town runs out of water. It begins with:

    As if times weren’t hard enough for residents in the remote NSW town of Walgett, stuck in a rut of 40-odd degree days and with the nearby Namoi River so dry “you can ride a motorbike on it”.

    A lightning strike on Thursday also knocked out the town’s bore water supplies, leaving tap flows to “just a dribble”, Ian Woodcock, deputy mayor of Walgett Shire, told the Herald.

    Sydney’s total water storage levels on Jan 4 were showing at 61.1%, down 0.4% from last week. If that rate of decline continues then in less than 3 weeks the threshold for starting the Sydney desalination plant will be reached.

  16. See Tim Buckley’s tweet (IEEFA) on Jan 2, 4:39pm that includes efficiency comparisons between battery electric, hydrogen fuel cell, and power to liquid fuel road vehicles.

    Using 100% renewable energy – Overall efficiencies:
    Battery electric: 73%;
    Hydrogen fuel cell: 22%;
    CO2 air capture to hydro-carbon liquid fuel ICE: 13%

    Interesting figures!

  17. GM: Interesting energy figures but they didn’t appear to include the energy required to haul batteries around. I have agreed that batteries are best for short range provided renewable energy is available. (An issue in countries with little spare land) However, if you want to fly commercially from Aus to the US batteries are not the answer.

  18. GM: Your table above implies what really counts is efficient use of electricity. However, we seem to be looking at a future where renewable energy is very cheap and surplus renewable energy has zero value.
    I have no feel for operating requirements and capital and operating costs for the various electro-fuel alternatives but I suspect that these plants could be designed so that they could run on at least partly interrupted power supply.
    Ammonia is already being produced and exported in the Pilbara using hydrogen from natural gas. See no reason why the hydrogen could not come from electrolysis and the shipped ammonia used as a source of transport hydrogen or possibly as direct fuel cell feed.
    Other interesting articles talk about using reverse fuel cells to produce ammonia instead of traditional methods. The article also says:

    Researchers around the globe are chasing the same vision of an “ammonia economy,” and Australia is positioning itself to lead it. “It’s just beginning,” says Alan Finkel, Australia’s chief scientist who is based in Canberra. Federal politicians have yet to offer any major legislation in support of renewable ammonia, Finkel says, perhaps understandable in a country long wedded to exporting coal and natural gas. But last year, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency declared that creating an export economy for renewables is one of its priorities. This year, the agency announced AU$20 million in initial funds to support renewable export technologies, including shipping ammonia.
    In Australia’s states, politicians see renewable ammonia as a potential source of local jobs and tax revenues, says Brett Cooper, chairman of Renewable Hydrogen, a renewable fuels consulting firm in Sydney. In Queensland, officials are discussing creating an ammonia export terminal in the port city of Gladstone, already a hub for shipping liquefied natural gas to Asia. In February, the state of South Australia awarded AU$12 million in grants and loans to a renewable ammonia project. And last year, an international consortium announced plans to build a US$10 billion combined wind and solar plant known as the Asian Renewable Energy Hub in Western Australia state. Although most of the project’s 9000 megawatts of electricity would flow through an undersea cable to power millions of homes in Indonesia, some of that power could be used to generate ammonia for long-distance export. “Ammonia is the key enabler for exporting renewables,” says David Harris, research director for low-emissions technologies at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Energy in Pullenvale. “It’s the bridge to a whole new world.”

    First, however, the evangelists for renewable ammonia will have to displace one of the modern world’s biggest, dirtiest, and most time-honored industrial processes: something called Haber-Bosch.

    The ammonia factory, a metallic metropolis of pipes and tanks, sits where the red rocks of Western Australia’s Pilbara Desert meet the ocean. Owned by Yara, the world’s biggest producer of ammonia, and completed in 2006, the plant is still gleaming. It is at the technological vanguard and is one of the largest ammonia plants in the world. Yet at its core are steel reactors that still use a century-old recipe for making ammonia.

    Until 1909, nitrogen-fixing bacteria made most of the ammonia on the planet. But that year, German scientist Fritz Haber found a reaction that, with the aid of iron catalysts, could split the tough chemical bond that holds together molecules of nitrogen, N2, and combine the atoms with hydrogen to make ammonia. The reaction takes brute force—up to 250 atmospheres of pressure in the tall, narrow steel reactors—a process first industrialized by German chemist Carl Bosch. The process is fairly efficient; about 60% of the energy put into the plant ends up being stored in the ammonia’s bonds. Scaled up to factories the size of Yara’s, the process can produce vast amounts of ammonia. Today, the facility makes and ships 850,000 metric tons of ammonia per year—more than double the weight of the Empire State Building.

  19. Geoff M, I do blame the scientists for their reticence. In general they give the impression that the whole thing is less risky, less dangerous and more manageable than it is.

    The quote from Garnaut you give above is a bit of retrospective arse covering.

    He was given 450ppm as an aim and stuck to it without warning about its inadequacy when he knew.

    He knew about Martin Weitzmann’s fat tails because Peter Wood who made a submission about them to Garnaut asked him at a public hearing. Garnaut acknowledged them but was basically stumm, as reported by Peter on LP at the time.

    James Hansen said 350ppm in 2007. Any scientist who can’t say that Hansen is wrong carries a burden.

  20. John Davidson (Re: JANUARY 5, 2019 AT 11:53 AM)

    GM: Interesting energy figures but they didn’t appear to include the energy required to haul batteries around.

    Careful John, I suspect you are assuming again.

    The figures given in my earlier link are interesting as they provide an indicative comparison among the three different road transport technologies using 100% renewable energy as the primary energy supplier.

    What would really be helpful is to have an energy cost per tonne-kilometre and monetary cost per tonne-kilometre comparison.

    But what the efficiency figures do suggest to me is that CO2 air capture/Fischer–Tropsch process to hydro-carbon liquid fuel ICE road vehicles need more than 5.6 times the amount of primary energy inputs compared with energy inputs for battery-electric road vehicles. IMHO, that’s not a good deal, indicating that hydro-carbon “electro-fuels” don’t appear to have a promising future compared with battery-electric and hydrogen vehicles – but more information would be helpful to make a more definitive informed choice.

    (Re: JANUARY 6, 2019 AT 9:37 AM)

    GM: Your table above implies what really counts is efficient use of electricity. However, we seem to be looking at a future where renewable energy is very cheap and surplus renewable energy has zero value.

    Energy has to came from somewhere, and in order to get that energy you need to expend energy and resources to produce the equipment/infrastructure that converts renewable sources of energy (i.e. wind, solar, etc.) into usable forms (e.g. electricity) and to distribute it to where it is needed. That’s not free and it won’t be cheap, but it still needs to be done if we wish to avoid a hot-house planet.

    I have no feel for operating requirements and capital and operating costs for the various electro-fuel alternatives but I suspect that these plants could be designed so that they could run on at least partly interrupted power supply.

    Perhaps you need to be more cautious about promoting these technologies until you do get “a better feel”?

    Ammonia is already being produced and exported in the Pilbara using hydrogen from natural gas. See no reason why the hydrogen could not come from electrolysis and the shipped ammonia used as a source of transport hydrogen or possibly as direct fuel cell feed.

    It requires less energy to split a methane (CH4) molecule to source hydrogen than it does to split a water (H2O) molecule.
    Hear the RenewEconomy podcast with former ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht from about time interval 12 minutes. Also listen from about 24 minutes re his thoughts on bio-energy.

  21. Brian (Re: JANUARY 6, 2019 AT 11:17 PM)

    Geoff M, I do blame the scientists for their reticence. In general they give the impression that the whole thing is less risky, less dangerous and more manageable than it is.

    I think perhaps you may be drawing on the benefit of hindsight, Brian?

    Shouldn’t most of the blame be directed at the fossil fuel industry and it’s disinformation campaigns? And certain sections of the media?

  22. John Davidson (Re: JANUARY 5, 2019 AT 10:20 PM)

    GM: I couldn’t get a clear figure but long range jet engine efficiencies are much better than the 30% in the table on relative energy losses in your comment

    From When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation, by Alice Friedemann, published 2016, see Table 2.2: Energy efficiency of transportation in kilojoules/ton/kilometer

    Oil tankers & bulk cargo ships: 50
    Smaller cargo ships: 100 – 150
    Trains: 250 – 600
    Barge: 360
    Trucks: 2,000 – 4,000
    Air freight: 30,000
    Helicopter: 55,000

  23. Sea, river and canal freight wins out then?
    If energy use us the paramount concern.

    BTW, GM: relative prices can change quite rapidly, I think. Especially so in a burgeoning area where several breakthroughs might be kept quiet (patent applications and/or held tightly to grab a commercial advantage)??

    John understands the practicalities of engineering advances. Much better than me, anyway.

  24. Ambi: You are right. breakthroughs in fields like batteries, biofuels, reversible ammonia fuel cells, hydrogen handling etc. could have a significant effect on future choices for renewable transport.

    John understands the practicalities of engineering advances.

    and some of the questions that need to be asked but I really don’t know much about operating many of the processes that might be part of producing renewable fuels.

  25. John,

    You and BilB and Brian are way ahead of the field. Perhaps you picked up too much humility while working and living on Groote Eylandt?

    Never mind.

  26. Ambigulous (Re: JANUARY 7, 2019 AT 7:25 PM)

    Sea, river and canal freight wins out then?
    If energy use us the paramount concern.

    It’s due to friction retarding the movement of mass over land or sea over a given distance. Water transport experiences the least friction. With fixed-wing air travel, some energy is required to keep the mass aloft. With helicopters, most of the energy is required to keep the mass aloft. I think these numbers are unlikely to change much.

    BTW, GM: relative prices can change quite rapidly, I think. Especially so in a burgeoning area where several breakthroughs might be kept quiet (patent applications and/or held tightly to grab a commercial advantage)??

    I suspect that’s wishful thinking on your part. Humanity cannot afford to wait around for “breakthroughs” that “might happen” – we need to be deploying technologies that are available NOW to rapidly reduce carbon emissions ASAP. This is an emergency.

    John understands the practicalities of engineering advances.

    Really? John stated above that (bold text my emphasis):

    I have no feel for operating requirements and capital and operating costs for the various electro-fuel alternatives…

    …and yet earlier he stated:

    It is also technically feasible to reduce air travel emissions by switching the air industry to renewable fuels such as renewable Jet A fuel without becoming dependent on bio-fuels with all the environmental damage or loss of food producing land.

    John D says he has “no feel” for the technology but thinks it’s “feasible” (whether “technically” or otherwise), so how’s that understanding the “practicalities of engineering advances“?

  27. Posted early yesterday online at the SMH is an article by Peter Hannam headlined ‘No place for mining’: coal mines drain water from dams. It begins with:

    Two coal mines in Greater Sydney’s catchment area are likely to be diverting millions of litres of water daily from reservoirs, an independent panel has found, prompting calls for a halt to further mining.

    The panel’s “initial report”, released before Christmas, found it “plausible” the Dendrobium underground mine between the Avon and Cordeaux dams was diverting 3 million litres a day into its workings. The nearby Metropolitan mine’s inflows were put at half a million litres, diverted from Woronora Reservoir.

    Who would have thunk it that allowing mining under critical water infrastructure would cause big drainage into the mines and enable significant drinking water losses to critical storage areas?

  28. GM

    I agree with you about the smaller frictional losses in water-borne transport.

    And the energy used to keep a helicopter, passenger plane or transport plane aloft must be huge.

    Which brings me back to Helium filled Zeppelins. Slow. Noncombustible gas. Old fashioned. Slow.

    So the first questions I would ask revolve around the energy costs of producing large volumes of He (helium) and how efficiently the He can be retained within the balloon(s) – inert atomic gas, tiny molecule, easily diffuses through thin party balloons, etc.

    If someone says, “Mate, how ever do you think anyone will be able to fly oranges from California to Sydney by zeppelin!!” my response will be that they are asking the wrong question.

    Herr Ambi
    Hindenburg Society for Futurology
    (“and where is my personal rocket?” sub-section)

  29. GM:

    Really? John stated above that (bold text my emphasis):

    I have no feel for operating requirements and capital and operating costs for the various electro-fuel alternatives…

    …and yet earlier he stated:

    It is also technically feasible to reduce air travel emissions by switching the air industry to renewable fuels such as renewable Jet A fuel without becoming dependent on bio-fuels with all the environmental damage or loss of food producing land.

    John D says he has “no feel” for the technology but thinks it’s “feasible” (whether “technically” or otherwise), so how’s that understanding the “practicalities of engineering advances“?

    GM: For some times during my career I was actively involved in the design, commissioning, operation and/or managing of coal processing plants as well as having a feel for the capital and operating costs of these plants.
    This experience may help me ask practical and technical questions about the the production, transport and use of electrofuels but I have never worked in any of the associated industries and understand the limits of my knowledge.
    If you had read my 2013 REnewEconomy pape on the subject you may have noticed that I was careful to establish that there are or were commercially available processes that would allow jet fuel to be produced from renewable electricity, CO2 and water. No claim was made that that the product would compete with fossil fuel or that the process used if we tried to do this today would use any of these steps. This was the basis of claiming technical feasibility.

  30. GM:

    BTW, GM: relative prices can change quite rapidly, I think. Especially so in a burgeoning area where several breakthroughs might be kept quiet (patent applications and/or held tightly to grab a commercial advantage)??

    I suspect that’s wishful thinking on your part. Humanity cannot afford to wait around for “breakthroughs” that “might happen” – we need to be deploying technologies that are available NOW to rapidly reduce carbon emissions ASAP. This is an emergency.

    Above comes across as a bit of a straw man. None of us is suggesting that we should do nothing while waiting for research to run its full, never ending course.
    What we are suggesting is that the relative strength of various options may change substantially over time and that research into various alternatives should continue.

  31. Thanks for the He article, GM.

    To this from John:
    What we are suggesting is that the relative strength of various options may change substantially over time and that research into various alternatives should continue.

    may I say “hear, hear!”
    or “amen”.

  32. John Davidson (Re: JANUARY 8, 2019 AT 2:57 PM)

    If you had read my 2013 REnewEconomy pape on the subject you may have noticed that I was careful to establish that there are or were commercially available processes that would allow jet fuel to be produced from renewable electricity, CO2 and water. No claim was made that that the product would compete with fossil fuel or that the process used if we tried to do this today would use any of these steps.

    In your linked RenewEconomy article your first paragraph states (bold text my emphasis):

    Iceland has begun exporting clean, renewable electro methanol to the Netherlands for blending with gasoline. While the quantities are small, this is a game changer for transport, petrochemicals and much more. It is a game changer because this methanol is renewable, low impact and able to be produced in sufficient quantities to completely avoid the need for fossil transport fuels.

    Male Bovine Excrement! No claim was made that the product would compete with fossil fuels, eh? Are you trying to defend the indefensible? The evidence is clear as day to me that you were claiming in the RenewEconomy article it would.

    You just won’t admit that you were overconfident and misjudged the situation, will you? And now you appear to be trying to rewrite history.

  33. As soon as terrestrial nuclear fusion reactors get going, there may be more He by-products than we know how to deal with.

    Wikipedia “Nuclear fusion” lists some low-Z exothermic fusion reactions:

    D + T → He ( 3.5 MeV ) + n0 ( 14.1 MeV )

    the optimum reaction; then two possibilities:

    D + D → T ( 1.01 MeV ) + p (3.02MeV 50%
    D + D → He ( 0.82 MeV ) + n
    ( 2.45 MeV) 50%

    I read these as follows.

    First reaction: deuterium + tritium react to produce helium plus a neutron

    Second reaction: two deuterium nuclei react to give either
    * one tritium nucleus plus a proton, OR
    * one helium nucleus plus a neutron
    The D-D reaction outcomes are equally likely (50% each).

    The He in the first reaction will be He 2, 4 [2 protons, 2 neutrons]

    The He in the third reaction will be He 2, 3 [2 protons, one neutron].

    These are different isotopes of He.

    We can see that the D-T reaction yields 17.6 MeV, much higher than the D-D reactions, yielding 4.03 and 3.27 MeV respectively.

    Personally, the aspect I’m not happy with is how much energy is carried by the neutron in the first reaction. Humans require shielding from neutron radiation.

  34. GM:

    Male Bovine Excrement! No claim was made that the product would compete with fossil fuels, eh? Are you trying to defend the indefensible? The evidence is clear as day to me that you were claiming in the RenewEconomy article it would.

    Didn’t claim that it was cost competitive with fossil fuels or environment destroying bio-fuels. Am claiming that it is one way that transport could go 100% renewable. (Also pointed out that the Kiwis had a commercial process for converting methanol to more energy dense fuels that could be used without having to change engines. (Read a bit more carefully and stop claiming I said what I didn’t.)

  35. Im thinking GMs internet search history has an above average occurrence of the word “ peak “.

    Just a hunch, could be wrong, no offence intended.

  36. Ambigulous (Re: JANUARY 8, 2019 AT 5:02 PM)

    As soon as terrestrial nuclear fusion reactors get going, there may be more He by-products than we know how to deal with.

    And when might that be, Ambi? Any predictions/forecasts? Or are you a bit more cautious than John D?

  37. John Davidson (Re: JANUARY 8, 2019 AT 6:41 PM)

    Didn’t claim that it was cost competitive with fossil fuels or environment destroying bio-fuels.

    This is what you wrote in your linked RenewEconomy article (bold text my emphasis):

    Renewable methanol, gasoline and diesel are transport game changers:

    1. They allow credible, easily understood plans to be developed for 100% renewable transport: Plans that:

    a. Could be as simple as replacing fossil fuels with renewable fuels (NOTE: Better plans would involve a mix of strategies);

    John D, please explain to me how it could “be as simple as replacing fossil fuels with renewable fuels” if it isn’t “cost competitive“?

    Your apparent cognitive dissonance is showing:

    When confronted with facts that contradict personal beliefs, ideals, and values, people will find a way to resolve the contradiction in order to reduce their discomfort.

    Are you going to continue to engage in logical somersaults or are you going to finally concede that you were overconfident and misjudged the situation?

  38. GM:

    John D, please explain to me how it could “be as simple as replacing fossil fuels with renewable fuels” if it isn’t “cost competitive“?

    You know as well as I do that the world will be cooked if we keep on using fossil fuels. Renewable fuels don’t have to be commercially competitive with fossil fuels to replace fossil fuels. All it takes is government or individual determination to make the switch.

  39. John Davidson (Re: JANUARY 9, 2019 AT 3:10 PM)

    You know as well as I do that the world will be cooked if we keep on using fossil fuels.

    You are stating the obvious.

    Renewable fuels don’t have to be commercially competitive with fossil fuels to replace fossil fuels.

    How naïve of you – what utter garbage. You repeatedly ignore the reality that you don’t get energy for nothing. To get usable energy you need to expend energy and resources on equipment/infrastructure and a delivery system to transport energy to where it’s needed and continue to expend energy/resources to maintain it. That energy has to come from somewhere!

    It’s clear to me in your statement that you don’t recognize the significance and importance of EROI and how too low an EROI won’t sustain civilisations and they will collapse.

    All it takes is government or individual determination to make the switch.

    Governments and individuals don’t have endless amounts of money. Your statement implies to me you have no idea of fiscal limitations. What breathtaking ignorance!

  40. John Quiggin has a post headlined Energy in 2019: dead horse roundup, dated Jan 3. It begins with:

    If the world is going to avoid dangerous climate change, we need to accelerate the pace of the energy transition towards decarbonization. So, as 2019 begins, it’s worth looking at the state of play. Easing into things, I’ll take a look at the dead horses: nuclear and “clean coal”.

    Peter Hannam at the SMH has an article posted earlier today headlined Records ‘blown away’ as rising power bill fears trigger solar PV surge. It begins with:

    New solar energy installations tripled in capacity in 2018 in Australia, with solid growth in rooftop solar eclipsed by a massive increase in utility-sized ventures.

    It includes tables of solar uptake for years 2017 & 2018. Check it out.

    Meanwhile on ABC 7:30 last night were 2 segments of interest:
    Plan to turn the dirtiest coal into clean fuel
    Up to a million fish dead along a stretch of the Darling River

  41. Geoff Miell

    One of your ripostes to John D is that “governments and individuals don’t have endless supplies of money”.

    That is not relevant. It is vastly overstated. I believe John was saying that individuals can choose to support a new technology, even though it may not be the very cheapest.

    Correct, I think.

    Here are some examples:

    1. Some people are habitually “early adopters”. Not only rich folk are like this. Some are hobbyists. Some just love newness. Some follow the latest inventions or advances avidly, and want to try them out; it’s even easier for these folk to find retail sources for their purchases now.

    2. Some folk got solar PV panels when they were much more expensive than they are now. Some folk did this for ethical reasons: chiefly to reduce their own “carbon footprint” as we used to call it.

    3. Some people chose to buy “green power” from their electricity retailer. They paid extra to do so.

    4. Some people buy more expensive products for a variety of reasons: quality; sentimental attachment to a brand or designer; wishing to “buy Australian”; wanting to support a local business and/or a small business; seeking prestige of a fancy brand; preferring a model with lots of extra features; preferring an unusual brand; wanting the item with the most energy-efficient running; etc.

    5. Some people spend money on rainwater tanks, or compost heaps, or worm farms, or home insulation, or passive solar heating, …. to reduce their impact on their surroundings. Saints? Not really. Wastrels? Not really. Super-rich? Not really.

    6. A few eccentrics ride a bike, or walk, or reduce their car use, or go vegetarian. Look around: humans are doing all sorts of strange things every day.

    You may be surprised to observe how many human beings are not classical cost minimisers.

    You probably know this?

    But to be like that may not be so expensive as to make it impossible for the poor or people on modest incomes.

    Guess what? Hobbyists reduce their other expenses, where possible, to make room for the occasional “extravagance”, or regular hobby spending. The family that decides to buy “green power” does so within their family budget; they don’t go bankrupt, neither do they starve.

    Why, with solar PV on the roof, they might (even now) be saving a few cents!

    “endless supplies of money” sounds a bit hyped up, I think.

  42. I believe John was saying that individuals can choose to support a new technology, even though it may not be the very cheapest.

    Correct, I think.

    No, incorrect, John was advocating Government compulsion at any cost regardless of cost or individual choice.
    To suggest

    Renewable fuels don’t have to be commercially competitive with fossil fuels to replace fossil fuels.

    is laughable, either in developed or especially underdeveloped Countries.

  43. “All it takes is government or individual determination to make the switch.”

    Jumpy, that’s what John wrote.
    That is an exact quote.

    Did you become so upset by the word government that you couldn’t shift your gaze to the right, and read or individual?

    Government compulsion?
    Nup, not necessarily.

    “Government determination” could lead to all kinds of action, before compulsion. For instance: the dreaded subsidies, the evil targets, the pernicious persuasion, the ridiculous purchasing decisions, the absurd signing of an international agreement in some distant capital city (e.g. in France?)

    All of these are lower on the harshness scale than compulsion.

    You might abhor any of the actions I mentioned. That’s up to you, Jump. But they don’t amount to compulsion.

  44. C’mon Jumpy, admit it!

    Your own customers, choosing fittings and finishes in the buildings you help construct don’t always choose the very cheapest available.

    And neither you nor I regard their decisions, taken freely and in full possession of their faculties, as laughable, do we??

  45. They make a value judgment Mr A.
    The emphasis should be on making co2 free options more valuable to more people.
    Price is a major component of the value.
    Longevity is another.
    As are environmental concerns.
    And as many other components as there are customers.

    To say “ commercially competitive “ is not price alone, I never mentioned “ cheapest “.

  46. Jumpy: This is what I said:

    You know as well as I do that the world will be cooked if we keep on using fossil fuels. Renewable fuels don’t have to be commercially competitive with fossil fuels to replace fossil fuels. All it takes is government or individual determination to make the switch.

    In the past governments have made a whole range of decisions that resulted increased costs. Think of banning leaded petrol to protect the minds of young children.
    I don’t know about you but I expect governments to make decisions in favour of safety, risk reduction, the environment etc even if it means cost to companies and individuals go up.
    My take is that we need to ramp down the consumption of fossil fuels rapidly if my grand children are going to have much of a future. Increase in fuel costs is a small price to pay.

  47. Yes, Jumpy.

    Price is a large component, but clearly not the only factor. You mention CO2 reduction, John wants rapid reduction in fossil fuel use, I want carbon emissions down pronto, Geoff M wants us also to consider EROI in emissions reduction plans.

    As far as I could make out, Geoff M was suggesting individuals and governments focus solely on the arithmetic of price.

    Not so.
    Your customers don’t.

    Some simplistic theories in economics used to focus solely on price.
    But “there is more ….. tban that, Horatio”

  48. Brian (Re: JANUARY 10, 2019 AT 9:53 AM)

    When faced with an existential threat, cost is a secondary consideration.

    Brian, I suspect you are thinking only in terms of monetary cost – please correct me if I’m wrong.

    I’m also talking about energetic costs – that’s why I also referred to EROI. From Twenty-First Century Snake Oil, Section 5: Energy Return On Investment (bold text my emphasis):

    For energy strategists to get the right answers, they must first ask the right questions. When choosing a primary energy source and a fuel to derive from it, it is essential to be sure the fuel will meet the demands of the civilization that will consume it. Raw primary energy sources require some energy to be consumed to process them into finished fuels. One key measure of a fuel’s usefulness to civilization is how much useful energy it yields as fuel divided by how much energy was required to extract the primary energy source from the environment and convert it into that fuel. This metric is known as energy return on investment (EROI).[38]

    An EROI of 1:1 would mean that the useful energy in a newly produced quantity of fuel is exactly equal to the energy consumed to produce it. It might seem that any EROI greater than unity is of net benefit to civilization – but this is false. A modern civilization requires a much greater return on its investment than this because survival and standard of living depend upon the size of this margin. To help quantify what civilization requires of its energy sources, it is helpful to look at how the laws of physics apply to living organisms.

    And further along (bold text my emphasis):

    The bottom line is that the economy of a modern developed nation slips into recession if its net fuel EROI drops below 6:1, and starves if EROI drops below 3:1. The inevitable consequence if such low EROIs persist is industrial collapse and regression of civilization to agrarian-age economics (Figure 2). Purposely displacing high-EROI energy sources with anything that returns less than 6:1 is to foolishly and harmfully push economies toward recession and civilization toward regression. It will have the same effect as starving a human with a diet of hay.

    Our standard of living requires an EROI for our energy systems averaging out at much more than 6:1 – more like 12:1 or better.

    Energetic cost is not secondary – it is primary – it is of existential concern.

  49. Ambigulous (Re: JANUARY 10, 2019 AT 4:55 AM)

    Geoff M wants us also to consider EROI in emissions reduction plans.

    Correct, see my comment to Brian.

    Price is a large component, but clearly not the only factor.

    Correct, but governments and individuals don’t have endless amounts of money – there are still fiscal limits.

    If you suggest there are no fiscal limits, then why doesn’t the government spend more on other things like:
    – education
    – healthcare
    – etc.

  50. John Davidson (Re: JANUARY 9, 2019 AT 9:37 PM)

    Increase in fuel costs is a small price to pay.

    You don’t know what the magnitude of fuel cost increases would be, do you John? You are assuming it will be acceptable/manageable, aren’t you John? But you don’t know, do you John? You are requiring us to accept an open chequebook and assume that it will work out.

    The indications above suggest to me you, John, are likely dreaming. What would really be helpful is to have an EROI analysis, an energy cost per tonne-kilometre and monetary cost per tonne-kilometre comparison, and that would decide whether it is beneficial, marginal (i.e. only the very rich can afford it) or not viable.

  51. Jumpy (Re: JANUARY 9, 2019 AT 7:17 PM)

    To suggest

    Renewable fuels don’t have to be commercially competitive with fossil fuels to replace fossil fuels.

    is laughable, either in developed or especially underdeveloped Countries.

    Agreed. Well, fancy that! You do make sense sometimes, Jumpy!

  52. Geoff M

    I didn’t say there are “no fiscal limits”.
    You mistook what I was getting at, I fear.

    You argued that “governments and persons don’t have endless supplies of money”. Indeed not. But there are all kinds of numbers between $1 and $infinity.

    Or between 1Megawatt and ‘infinite energy’.

    Jumpy said his customers make a value judgement. So do energy users: individuals, families, businesses small and large, governments….. Did you notice I mentioned Australians who voluntarily buy “green energy” at slightly higher prices?

    Now you may think that’s just a marketing scam. But those energy users made a choice, and it wasn’t the lowest-price choice. It may have only a small effect on emissions; but the sum of many small effects can make a useful total.

    And such choices “send a market signal ” to existing and new companies.

  53. Ambigulous (Re: JANUARY 10, 2019 AT 11:23 AM)

    Did you notice I mentioned Australians who voluntarily buy “green energy” at slightly higher prices?

    I did.

    Australians who voluntarily buy “green energy” at slightly higher prices know for sure how much they are or will pay. These Australians know how much they will need to pay and make a judgement (rightly or wrongly) that this is what they can afford.

    John D does not know the magnitude of the cost of “electro-fuels”. And yet he says:

    Renewable fuels don’t have to be commercially competitive with fossil fuels to replace fossil fuels. All it takes is government or individual determination to make the switch.

    That’s a laughable proposition – it ignores costs (energetic and monetary).

  54. GM:

    John D does not know the magnitude of the cost of “electro-fuels”.

    Not true. I do know that:
    Iceland is/was able to produce renewable methanol commercially at a price that could compete with fossil methanol produced by the normal process that starts with natural gas.
    The Kiwis were converting natural gas produced methanol into diesel or petrol commercially. There may have been subsidies but the implication is that production costs would not have been dramatically above the cost of the alternatives.
    Norway used cheap hydro power to produce electrolytic hydrogen that was converted to ammonia. Implication is that electro hydrogen will compete with hydrogen produced from natural gas when the price of electricity.
    I got 36million hits when I googled “Recovery of CO2 from the air including this link: recovery of CO2 from the air for the production of fuel and other uses. Suggests that I am not a lone crazy when it comes to using CO2 from the air or seawater to produce renewable hydrocarbon fuels.

  55. Geoff M, I don’t need a long lecture with all sorts of jargon. All I’m saying is that if we have to pay more to clean up our act on climate change, we should.

  56. John Davidson (Re: JANUARY 10, 2019 AT 1:32 PM)

    GM:

    John D does not know the magnitude of the cost of “electro-fuels”.

    Not true. I do know that:
    Iceland is/was able to produce renewable methanol commercially at a price that could compete with fossil methanol produced by the normal process that starts with natural gas.

    What is the magnitude of the cost of renewable methanol from Iceland? Links that contain verifiable numbers (i.e. fuel types and an indication of the processes that produced them, excluding those from fossil fuel sources, with respective sale prices and volumes produced, preferably month-by-month but yearly would give some indication) please? If you cannot produce these figures then you do not know – you are assuming that they could/can compete. You are also assuming that the Iceland example can be scaled-up to global quantities – what’s your evidence, not your assumptions?

    The Kiwis were converting natural gas produced methanol into diesel or petrol commercially. There may have been subsidies but the implication is that production costs would not have been dramatically above the cost of the alternatives.

    The Kiwis are using fossil fuels – this is not renewable and therefore not long-term sustainable – why mention this? This is a distraction from the issue of the viability of renewable hydro-carbon “electro-fuels”.

    Norway used cheap hydro power to produce electrolytic hydrogen that was converted to ammonia. Implication is that electro hydrogen will compete with hydrogen produced from natural gas when the price of electricity.

    This is another distraction away from the issue of the viability of renewable hydro-carbon “electro-fuels”.

    I got 36million hits when I googled “Recovery of CO2 from the air including this link: recovery of CO2 from the air for the production of fuel and other uses.

    How many hits does Kim Kardashian get? It doesn’t mean the hits are all from discerning people, does it, John? So what!

    Suggests that I am not a lone crazy when it comes to using CO2 from the air or seawater to produce renewable hydrocarbon fuels.

    It may mean you are among many desperate people who are willing to believe anything is possible without considering the limitations of physics, chemistry, biology and EROI – requoting from above:

    For energy strategists to get the right answers, they must first ask the right questions. When choosing a primary energy source and a fuel to derive from it, it is essential to be sure the fuel will meet the demands of the civilization that will consume it. …

    You simply refuse to consider that you were (and apparently still remain) overconfident and misjudged (and apparently still misjudging) the situation.

  57. Brian (Re: JANUARY 10, 2019 AT 11:37 PM)

    Geoff M, I don’t need a long lecture with all sorts of jargon. All I’m saying is that if we have to pay more to clean up our act on climate change, we should.

    How much more, Brian? 50% more? Twice as much? Five times as much? Ten times as much? What magnitude or order of magnitude? That’s what I’m trying to get to the bottom of. ‘Hand waving’ and baseless assumptions won’t do!

    Nothing happens without energy!
    Unaffordable energy means life becomes unaffordable!

    Facts and evidence are what counts, not baseless assumptions and wishful thinking.

  58. Geoff M, why don’t you put your mind to solving the problem. I did last night, just by thinking about it and a few quick searches this morning.

    It’s only back of envelope stuff at this stage but looks 100% doable and won’t cost an arm and a leg. Have to go to work now, but I’ll do a post tonight.

    See whether you can work it out. The big hint is that it doesn’t involve new fuel technology – at all.

  59. Brian (Re: JANUARY 11, 2019 AT 12:19 PM)

    It’s only back of envelope stuff at this stage but looks 100% doable and won’t cost an arm and a leg.

    Please present your case.

    In your latest post you say (bold text my emphasis):

    In 1999 NASA lost its $125-million Mars Climate Orbiter because spacecraft engineers failed to convert from Imperial to metric measurements when exchanging vital data before the craft was launched. Numbers are important!

    Indeed, numbers are important! I await publication of your analysis with numbers to confirm it’s “100% doable and won’t cost an arm and a leg“.

  60. Brian (Re: JANUARY 11, 2019 AT 12:19 PM)

    See whether you can work it out. The big hint is that it doesn’t involve new fuel technology – at all.

    With respect, Brian, if you’ve thought about it in a relatively short time-frame and come-up with a solution that’s “100% doable and won’t cost an arm and a leg” that easily, why hasn’t anybody else done the same? What’s the catch?

  61. GM
    GM:

    What is the magnitude of the cost of renewable methanol from Iceland? Links that contain verifiable numbers (i.e. fuel types and an indication of the processes that produced them, excluding those from fossil fuel sources, with respective sale prices and volumes produced, preferably month-by-month but yearly would give some indication) please? If you cannot produce these figures then you do not know – you are assuming that they could/can compete. You are also assuming that the Iceland example can be scaled-up to global quantities – what’s your evidence, not your assumptions?

    Your endless requests for everything I say to be backed up by a detailed study is nothing more than pedantic nit-picking from someone who comes across as never having designed, constructed, commissioned or operated a processing plant let alone done cost estimates.
    You don’t seem to understand that past commercial operation of a potential stage in the past is a reasonable indication that the potential stage is not going to push the price of e-fuels up far enough to make its viable, particularly if you take account of all the cost of the damage being done by fossil fuels to the health of people, communities and the planet.
    As a matter of interest the Icelandic methanol producer was talking about tripling production as well as using part of their production to produce renewable diesel. Hardly suggests that their renewable methanol cannot compete with methanol made from fossil fuels.

  62. With respect, Brian, if you’ve thought about it in a relatively short time-frame and come-up with a solution that’s “100% doable and won’t cost an arm and a leg” that easily, why hasn’t anybody else done the same? What’s the catch?

    Funny, GM, I thought you’d say that.

    I don’t know. Perhaps they have not been looking in that direction.

    Late start tonight, but I’ll see how I go.

  63. GM

    There are thousands (or more) people thinking about this problem, from hundreds of different viewpoints. Some are employed to work on an aspect of it.

    One example: an Australian engineering graduate who has worked for huge fossil-fuel car manufacturers, currently working on a (corporate sponsored) project planning to produce modest sized electric cars for the Indian market. Has assessed the market in India. Aiming for the middle to lower price point.

    There you go. Practical, feasible, doable; but requiring large investments in the preliminary design and costings. Happening right now.

    I wish his team well. Do you?

    Or would such an outcome in the Indian market not quite meet your standards of excellence?

    And what if those vehicles were then to flood the Aussie market, at prices to suit poorer people who currently drive old, inefficient, higher emission petrol fuelled duds??

    If it came to that, would you approve?

    Cheers

  64. John Davidson (Re: JANUARY 11, 2019 AT 8:13 PM)

    Your endless requests for everything I say to be backed up by a detailed study is nothing more than pedantic nit-picking from someone who comes across as never having designed, constructed, commissioned or operated a processing plant let alone done cost estimates.

    No, I’m asking you for basic information that proves so-called hydro-carbon “electro-fuels” are viable, long-term sustainable, scaleable and can affordably and readily replace liquid fossil fuels – that’s the claim you appear to be making. You haven’t provided anywhere near the level of evidence required and expect me to just except your word that it is so – an act of faith. That looks like religion to me. Sorry, so far I’m not buying it.

    You don’t seem to understand that past commercial operation of a potential stage in the past is a reasonable indication that the potential stage is not going to push the price of e-fuels up far enough to make its viable…

    You are assuming again. A “past commercial operation of a potential stage” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s viable when scaled-up to full production or part of another multi-stage process. Without costs to compare with you are guessing – baseless wishful thinking.

    As a matter of interest the Icelandic methanol producer was talking about tripling production as well as using part of their production to produce renewable diesel. Hardly suggests that their renewable methanol cannot compete with methanol made from fossil fuels.

    The post you link to says very little. Certainly nothing about costs, or whether the plant and processing costs are subsidized. It’s dated 22 April 2015 (more than three and a half years ago) – what’s happened since, John? I see a pattern emerging that indicates all your examples are years old.

    Did the Carbon Recycling plant at Svartsengi, Southwest Iceland actually go ahead with their plans to “construct a new plant, ten to 20 times larger than the existing one“, or was it postponed/shelved? What is the plant producing now? Or has it closed because it’s not economically competitive without subsidies?

    In April 2015 the plant production rate in the reported week increased to 4,000 tons of methanol per year.
    Converting to litres, assume density 791.3 kg/m (at 20°C), 4,000 tons (UK long ton), converts to:
    5,136,089 litres per year (or 14,071 litres per day).
    To put that in perspective, in 2017 the world produced crude oil at an annual averaged rate of 92.649 million barrels PER DAY (or 14.730 billion litres PER DAY). -See BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018
    Basically the Icelandic methanol plant you refer to is a drop in the ocean of petroleum oil.

    John, stop ‘hand waving’ and look at the critical numbers!

  65. Have to work again today.

    I assembled a few links, could do a quickie, but think now I’ll put a bit more effort in, so remember I’m not an engineer and intellectually this is foreign country for me.

    My impression now is that reducing air travel emissions has not been in the minds of policy makers, in part because international air travel is been no-one’s responsibility, and internally governments have had other fish to fry.

    There seem to be three general approaches – aircraft design, alternative fuels (there’s a subset called ‘hybrid’ here, and offsets.

    The last has been almost completely neglected as a serious area of study, and is bedevilled by the false promises of the general biofuel scam, where the carbon sequestered over the life of a tree is counted as an instant offset.

    I’ll have to turn to W Salon tonight.

    Cheers.

    BTW, GM, what was your attitude to the hopelessly inefficient and expensive solar panels and wind turbines 10 years ago?

  66. Brian (Re: JANUARY 12, 2019 AT 10:07 AM)

    BTW, GM, what was your attitude to the hopelessly inefficient and expensive solar panels and wind turbines 10 years ago?

    Were they “hopelessly” inefficient, Brian? – Your words, not mine.

    Our lives are governed by the constraints of physics, chemistry and biology – that’s non-negotiable whether we like it or not. EROI derives from from these constraints but apparently you “don’t need a long lecture with all sorts of jargon“. There are none so blind as those who will not see.

    When the facts change, I alter my conclusions.

    I’m after facts, not baseless wishful thinking.

  67. GM,

    I too admire facts.

    Here’s a fact to ponder: the output of each individual fuel refinery, each oil rig, each underground coal mine, each coal seam gas rig, is “a mere drop in the ocean of total hydrocarbon fuel production”

    So each particular site, each production plant, is utterly negligible and of no importance.*

    Do you see where this leads?

    *Should we call this the Miell Principle?

    (To my non-engineering mind, there seems to be a logical flaw there….. can you clarify it please Mr Miell?)

    +++
    Brian: on air travel….

    Perhaps we could start by reducing the number of international talkfests at desirable locations conferences (generally funded by taxpayers)?

    If Skype is so damn good, and online discussions are so wonderful, why do conferences persist, or indeed proliferate??

    Oh, I see: it’s everyone else who should lower their emissions, not the pollies/academics/doctors/lawyers/
    CEOs/mayors/public servants.

    Got it.

  68. And the CO2 emissions of conference travellers are “only a drop in the ocean”.

    (In unpleasant moments I could think of a few “warm passport award” winners who might well drop into an ocean somewhere.)

  69. Perhaps we could start by reducing the number of international talkfests at desirable locations conferences (generally funded by taxpayers)?

    Yep, and if we’re sure of the threat why keep paying billions to measure it, better to have our “ best and brightest scientists “ working on solutions.

    I realised is probably more fun for Phycology* scientists to paddle around measuring the effects of Global warming on algae around the GBR but wouldn’t their efforts be better directed at ways algae can be harnessed as a solution ?

    ( * just one example )

  70. … wouldn’t their efforts be better directed at ways algae can be harnessed as a solution ?

    A solution to what?
    Are you acknowledging (finally) that there is a problem?

  71. Apologies, I skimmed over

    if we’re sure of the threat

    Doesn’t really change my question though. Does Jumpy finally acknowledge there is a threat?

  72. A ‘threat’ is an emotional experience which is hard to quantify and even qualify. In contrast a ‘risk’ can be quantified and expressed in odds or levels of significance. Hand in hand with quantifiable significance goes quantifiable magnitude of a risk. In relation to Anthropogenic Climate Change the scientific confidence level is is very high (>95%) and the magnitude of the risk posed is equally quantifiable and pans out as extremely high in the long run.

    One can feel threatened or not by all sort of significant levels as well as magnitudes. A threat is a visceral perception where as a risk, by its nature, can be measured and invites to be quantified.

    Cultural warriors tend to refer to emotional values, because these are experientially real to them, where as scientific assessment of an external risks is seen as unnecessary sophistry. For them it is more convenient or natural not to feel threatened, thus they can ignore to be mindful of a logically established risk level.

    Social Deconstruction is such a fascinating tool post-modern methods provide us with 🙂

  73. Cultural warriors tend to refer to emotional values, because these are experientially real to them, where as scientific assessment of an external risks is seen as unnecessary sophistry. For them it is more convenient or natural not to feel threatened, thus they can ignore to be mindful of a logically established risk level.

    Such an elegant explanation. Thank you Ootz.

  74. Ambi, I like skype too, but for body language to work you really need to be there.

    Also, when difficult positions need to be resolved the breakthrough sometimes comes during the coffee break.

    GM, let me just ask:

    What was your attitude to solar panels and wind turbines when they were emerging rather than established technologies?

  75. Yes Brian

    I have also enjoyed international meetings. Body language and coffee breaks: yes!!

    Can body language transmit over high definition Skype?

    Where attending a conference is a sure way to find congenial new collaborators, internet searches can supplement those experiences by finding persons I am highly unlikely ever to meet face-to-face.

    Brian, I will supplement your enquiry to GM. In the early 1960s CSIRO in Melbourne designed and built very inefficient rooftop rigs to produce solar hot water . Commercial offshoots usually had a storage tank on the roof. By their tanks would you recognise them. Geoff: were those efforts a waste of energy?

    Cheers

  76. Jumpy

    Studies of algae have lead some to believe that humans can do more direct algae-farming in the future.

    Why wait around, further up the food chain? Go to the solar energy source!

    BTW, kelp farmers at such places as King Island are already harvesting algae. Useful products like ingredients for toothpaste and ice cream thickeners emerge. But it’s hard labour, and only a couple of drops from the (Southern) Ocean!

    It is also regulated.
    Over-extraction is always a lurking risk with natural sources.

  77. Brian (Re: JANUARY 12, 2019 AT 11:24 PM)

    GM, let me just ask:

    What was your attitude to solar panels and wind turbines when they were emerging rather than established technologies?

    I wasn’t paying attention to them. I’ve only been looking at energy issues since about 2012. I wasn’t aware of EROI studies then either. We live and learn.

    The issue with so-called “hydro carbon electro-fuels” is that John D is apparently making the claim they are viable, long-term sustainable, scaleable and can affordably and readily replace liquid fossil fuels. I’m challenging that premise, asking for critical information that proves that premise – I’m not going to take John D’s word for it. I get fobbed-off by John D with statements that asking for evidence is “mindless“.

    And Brian, apparently you don’t want to know about EROI because you “don’t need a long lecture with all sorts of jargon“. Brian, you’ve taken the time to understand the “jargon” of climate change and have done prolific posts with prodigious references on the subject – why don’t you want to take the time to understand the “jargon” and issues of EROI? Energy is inextricably linked with the issue of climate change.

    Tim Buckley’s tweet included info showing efficiencies for 3 types of road vehicle energy systems. Those numbers indicate to me that so-called “hydro-carbon electro-fuels” have a poor overall energy efficiency compared with battery-electric vehicles – more than 5.6 times worse.

    I doubt that wind and solar-PV panels had a similar magnitude of energy efficiency deficiency (costs certainly were significantly more expensive) when these technologies began emerging. That’s what it’s about: being in the energy efficiency ballpark to begin with, and that’s why EROI analysis can be beneficial.

    Biofuels/biomass are not energy efficient – poor EROI.
    I suspect “hydro-carbon electro-fuels” are the same – poor EROI. Getting critical data will either confirm (or refute) that.

  78. Posted early yesterday online in the SMH by Nicole Hasham is an article headlined Waste crisis looms as thousands of solar panels reach end of life. The article begins with:

    Thousands of ageing rooftop solar panels represent a toxic time-bomb and major economic waste unless Australia acts swiftly to keep them out of landfill, conservationists and recyclers say.

    Australia’s enthusiastic embrace of rooftop solar has brought clear environmental and economic benefits, but critics say governments have dragged their feet in addressing the looming waste crisis.

    We need to be able to effectively recycle all componentry, otherwise it’s not long-term sustainable.

  79. Brian, you’ve taken the time to understand the “jargon” of climate change and have done prolific posts with prodigious references on the subject – why don’t you want to take the time to understand the “jargon” and issues of EROI?

    Geoff Miell, have you considered the age of our host, that he is still doing manual work, mowing and yard maintenance? Have you noticed the wide interests and topics Brian covers in his blog with an astonishing depth? Are you aware how prolific he is in analysing and writing and much time such endeavour takes? Have you paid attention to his prolific family life he reports on and the voluntary work he does? What do you expect from him and us for that matter?

    Years ago I made a solid case for disinvestment in fossil fuel and was keen for Brian to take it up with his considerable research and analytical skills. In a round about way he told us that he does not think much of it and was not interested. Fine, I looked elsewhere for my requirements and only now and then bring it up here. Most importantly I bring it up in context of a topic I now he is interested. Agree to disagree I say, time, resources and good relations are too precious for most of us.

    … lives are governed by the constraints of physics, chemistry and biology

    Live on earth itself proves that open mindedness and innovation can trick the overwhelming cosmological constraints.

  80. GM:

    Tim Buckley’s tweet included info showing efficiencies for 3 types of road vehicle energy systems. Those numbers indicate to me that so-called “hydro-carbon electro-fuels” have a poor overall energy efficiency compared with battery-electric vehicles – more than 5.6 times worse.

    The issue is more complex than energy efficiency. For example, energy density becomes a more and more important issue the further you travel between charge/refuel points. This is a particular issue with air travel since there are no equivalent options to having sections of road where vehicles are recharged or electrified train-lines (or some roadway equivalent of electrified lines.)
    The other issue is costs. If surplus renewable power can be used to make electro fuels the power cost is essentially zero and energy efficiency may not be an important issue if all we are trying to do is provide the fuel for long haul flights. On the other hand, if we are trying to keep electric trains going 24/7 some of this power will come from expensive peaking power/stored power.
    You are just going to have to do a bit of thinking for yourself. I haven’t got the resources or inclination to do detailed costings and design in areas where I claim no expertise.

  81. Most examples need very careful scrutiny and thought.

    There is a blanket attitude that public transport must be more efficient than individual vehicles.

    Well, here’s a reductio ad absurdum that might give pause.

    What if the trains or buses or trams carry 0 passengers? What if they carry only 1? Where is the crossover figure?

    What if the car, on most trips, is close to being full (car pooling? ride sharing vehicle?)?

    How do long distance and very short (e.g. suburban) trips compare?

    In which case do I emit more CO2: a three minute drive to the nearby shops in my car or a 35 minute walk??

    Walking seems to be going out of fashion, somewhat.

  82. John

    The main feature black coal and hydrocarbon fuels excel in, is their high energy density, isn’t it?

  83. Ootz (Re: JANUARY 14, 2019 AT 4:19 PM)

    Geoff Miell, have you considered the age of our host, that he is still doing manual work, mowing and yard maintenance? Have you noticed the wide interests and topics Brian covers in his blog with an astonishing depth? Are you aware how prolific he is in analysing and writing and much time such endeavour takes? Have you paid attention to his prolific family life he reports on and the voluntary work he does?

    What’s your point, Ootz? Brian chooses to do these things. I’m not forcing him to do these activities. I’ve referred to Brian’s “prolific posts with prodigious references” in my previous comment – the inference I take from your comment suggests you think I haven’t noticed – I clearly have because I’ve already acknowledged it. I think your questions are an attempt to misrepresent/denigrate me – an attempt to falsely infer I’m the bad guy here.

    What do you expect from him and us for that matter?

    I repeat my earlier question:

    …why don’t you want to take the time to understand the “jargon” and issues of EROI? Energy is inextricably linked with the issue of climate change.

    But here’s the disappointing fact: None of you so far have objected to John D saying: “Use your mind instead of making mindless demands for data and references” (see Our Legacy to the Children thread, John D’s comment DECEMBER 22, 2018 AT 10:15 AM). The inference I take from this is, you all seem to think seeking “data and references” is “mindless”. Or is it only “mindless” because I’m the one asking?

    I think this is an example of tribalism – supporting John D to extraordinary lengths (i.e. cognitive dissonance), no matter how absurd the arguments (because he is apparently part of the “tribe”) in defence against the “outsider” (i.e. me).

    Here’s another thought: Perhaps you all don’t want to admit you may possibly have been hasty accepting John D’s premise that so-called “hydro-carbon electro-fuels” (i.e. “renewable methanol, gasoline and diesel”) are “transport game changers”, and “as simple as replacing fossil fuels with renewable fuels” (quoting John D’s words, not mine), and so you all prefer to attack me instead because I’m questioning what you all seem to think is a viable energy solution. Denigrate the challenger (i.e. me), rather than deal honestly with a potentially “scary” reality. I’m challenging the possible delusion that you all don’t seem to want to honestly revisit. I’m asking for evidence and data, not baseless assumptions. Apparently, you all seem to think assumptions are enough (how could John D’s assumptions be possibly wrong, aye?), and seeking evidence/data is superfluous, even “mindless”. I think you are all being intellectually dishonest and thus lulled (deluded) into a potential false sense of security.

    I repeat my earlier comment:

    Biofuels/biomass are not energy efficient – poor EROI.
    I suspect “hydro-carbon electro-fuels” are the same – poor EROI. Getting critical data will either confirm (or refute) that.

    John D has made an apparently unsubstantiated claim – I’m challenging that claim. He needs to back it up with evidence/data, not rely on apparently baseless assumptions and flawed thinking. I think you are all giving him a free pass to maintain a potential delusion.

  84. Ambigulous (Re: JANUARY 12, 2019 AT 12:34 PM)

    I too admire facts.

    Do you, Ambi? It seems to me you are willing to accept John D’s assumptions over facts, yes?

    Here’s a fact to ponder: the output of each individual fuel refinery, each oil rig, each underground coal mine, each coal seam gas rig, is “a mere drop in the ocean of total hydrocarbon fuel production”

    So each particular site, each production plant, is utterly negligible and of no importance.

    Per the Carbon Recycling International website, the George Olah Renewable Methanol Plant in Svartsengi, near Grindavik, Iceland began production in late 2011 and was completed in 2012. It is claimed to be the world’s largest CO2 to methanol plant. The website (undated, but presumably after 2015) includes (bold text my emphasis):

    In 2015 CRI expanded the plant from a capacity of 1.3 million litres per year to more than 5 million litres a year. The plant now recycles 5.5 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide a year which would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. All energy used in the plant comes from the Icelandic grid, which is generated from hydro and geothermal energy. The plant uses electricity to make hydrogen which is converted into methanol in a catalytic reaction with carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 is captured from flue gas released by a geothermal power plant located next to the CRI facility. The origin of the flue gas are geothermal steam emissions.

    If this is the world’s largest CO2 to methanol plant then there’s a long way to go to make any impact on displacing petroleum fuels. I note also that there’s nothing about costs or how competitive the methanol produced is compared with fossil fuels. The plant is not entirely CO2 emissions free.

    Here’s a more recent article, dated 19 Nov 2018, that includes (bold text my emphasis):

    CRI built their demo plant in 2012 and became the world’s first company to produce and sell methanol made from waste CO2. Since 2014, the plant can manufacture around 4,000 tonnes of methanol per year, which is sold in other European countries.

    This amount is a drop in the ocean for now, since around 80 million tonnes of methanol are made annually. Through a project called Circle Energy, CRI is conducting a feasibility study on scaling up its operations. CRI aims to construct dozens of facilities in Europe that combine renewable energy with waste CO2 gas to make methanol, starting with a much larger facility in Norway, where it will use hydropower to make 100,000 tonnes of methanol each year. The plan is to start building soon and complete the facility by 2021.

    CRI conducting a feasibility study on scaling up its operations” – meaning it hasn’t yet been determined it’s feasible to scale-up operations. John D continues to claim it is feasible.

    The article also says in “The Issue” box:

    In June, the European Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors delivered an opinion on novel carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) technologies.

    The opinion (dated May 2018) states on page 8:

    The Opinion concludes that:
     CCU may play a role to de-fossilise the economy and help reaching climate change mitigation targets;

    I highlight the key words: “may play a role”, NOT WILL play a rolemeaning it’s not confirmed that it definitely will.

    The current opinion from experts indicate it’s not confirmed that so-called “hydro-carbon electro-fuels” are viable – conclusive evidence is apparently not available.

    I found this information quite easily. So I wonder whether John D has been withholding information because it was inconvenient and detrimental to his baseless proposition.

    So, John D, will you now admit that you were overconfident and misjudged the situation?

  85. Hi again, GM.

    In my view, nothing in life or economics or engineering developments is ever certain.

    (I except from this only mathematics and the basic laws of chemistry and physics, including thermodynamics.)

    I adore facts.

    But in economics, finance, engineering, and yes – even in politics – one day’s facts/realities are a later day’s out-of-date, or superseded, or revised “new facts”, or left behind like typewriter ribbons and lamps using whale oil.

    The Temperance Movement seems old-fashioned now.

    But the new Intemperance Movement seems to be gaining new adherents every day. I look forward to Peak Intemperance, followed by a rapid lessening of accusations.

    Cheerio.

    By the way, GM, I don’t accept your assumption that “silence implies consent”: just because I don’t reply to Poster X, doesn’t in any way imply that I
    1) agree with
    Or
    2) can detect no flaws in
    the particular post….. by Poster X.

    I might not have read it at all.
    I may have quickly skimmed through it.

    I may have nothing useful to say about it – you yourself have often disagreed with comments I made here; you are well aware of my many limitations. Occasionally I choose silence.

    I may be off somewhere looking at references or links.
    I might be on holiday.

    Who knows?

  86. What’s your point, Ootz?

    Brian looks like being too busy and stretched for an elderly gentleman.

    Brian chooses to do these things.

    Sure, and he choose to not engage in your as well as mine special area of interests. It is his blog and his prerogative as a host.

    I’ve referred to Brian’s “prolific posts with prodigious references” in my previous comment

    Indeed you did and I noticed. But did you consider the fact that he maybe too busy to attend to all our whims and demand? Brian has had an online presence for decades and he is widely respected for his consistent courteous and considered treatment of all.
    Have you considered his clumsy replies to your and my request to engage in our specific field of interest, may have to do with other things, like being frustrated of not having enough time and energy to do so? Or like you and me, he may gets a bit irritated by what would appear as unreasonable demands while not considering his situation.

    I think your questions are an attempt to misrepresent/denigrate me

    For future reference could you please point out to me how I can suggest to you to consider and not just noticing Brian’s situation when you feel badly done by him in order to not misrepresent/denigrate you. I gave you an example of how I responded in a similar situation with Brian, is that denigrating?

    – an attempt to falsely infer I’m the bad guy here.

    Let me be clear I do not intend to give you grief, to the contrary. I want us to have a civil relation, where we can, as I stated in my offending comment Agree to disagree … time, resources and good relations are too precious for most of us.

    Yours sincerely Ootz

  87. Ambigulous (Re: JANUARY 15, 2019 AT 12:10 PM)

    By the way, GM, I don’t accept your assumption that “silence implies consent”

    Now that I’ve raised the issue, do you think John D’s statement: “Use your mind instead of making mindless demands for data and references” is acceptable? Or are you going to avoid having to answer the question? I think you are very good at avoiding difficult questions.

    “The standard you walk by is the standard you accept”

  88. Actually, I’ve been to the dentist today. Now am going to go for a constitutional walk, and then my wife and I may watch some tennis. Must phone my daughter also.

    I think the tone of the thread has been out of hand, so I’ve read it all the way through, instead of skimming it. I can’t be in the threads and write new stuff at the same time.

    There is rather too much to respond to, but GM, you do become abrasive and a bit rude at times.

    Just a few simple things.

    If the future of life on earth is at stake, the tolerable cost in dollars is what it is and may be quite high. That may or may not alter what we do and how we do it.

    We need to imagine a world where the use of fossil fuels is verboten, and then think of the most economic and environmentally friendly way of producing energy. Certainly run a ruler over it to work out the EROI (energy return on investment), which is a ratio derived from the ‘Energy usable in newly produced fuel’ as against the ‘Energy consumed in producing the new fuel’.

    I don’t need lectures about it because as such it’s not a difficult concept. However, working it out in specific cases is a specialist research job, not one to be undertaken by bloggers.

    I think that is what John D is trying to tell you. He suspects certain approaches will be rewarding and are game changers (if he misses out ‘may be’ before ‘game changers’ I not going to hang him or yell at him and say very unrespectful things about him).

    I read it but can’t find it now, but I’m sure you said you ‘suspect’ he’s wrong. You don’t know you suspect. You are entitled to that opinion, and I won’t call you a hand waver if you don’t have data to prove it.

    Gotta go now, but just with the message that over the last few days stats on the blog have been all-time highs, and it’s not because of this stoush. People unknown have been finding good stuff I’ve forgotten was there.

  89. “The standard you walk by is the standard you accept” may be a reasonable principle in a closed organisation, e.g. Army; Boarding school, office where people work together Mon-Fri, a courtroom, Parliament chamber……

    but not on a blog…..

    some folk come here to browse, wander, search; some make comments, but many don’t. That should be fine. (Does every newspaper reader fire off regular Letters to the Editor? Does every reader of a scientific journal submit a paper for publication??)

    This notion of demanding answers from people, well, most of us, I submit, are not here to be cross-examined, Learned Counsel.

    Some of us here quite like the idea of being permitted to speak when we’re not being spoken to.

  90. GM: The attraction of e-fuels made using renewable electricity is that their production and use cycle doesn’t require fossil carbon and, unlike the major sources of biofuels such as grains, sugar cane and palm oil does not require a reduction in our food producing capacity or damage to the wild environment.
    You appear to be saying that fossil fuels should only be replaced if the renewable, low impact alternative alternative is cost competitive. (If you are not saying this what are you saying?)
    If you don’t like some of the solutions I say may be the answer what are you suggesting? Stick with fossil fuels? Batteries are the answer to everything? We give up long haul flying?
    I am sorry, but what I see is someone who likes waving charts and acronyms about but doesn’t understand the processes people use in the search for solutions and in the sorting of things worth thinking about and things that probably won’t get a run unless there is an amazing breakthrough. (And what sort of breakthrough might change what is worth pursuing at this stage?)

  91. John D, I’ve edited the last three words of your comment into two, so if you wouldn’t mind checking the result!

  92. On the topic of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, the Saudi monopoly ARAMCO has had an independent audit of their oil reserves.

    Higher than 260 billion barrels.
    And they claim their cost of production is as low as $4 per barrel.

    The article may be a “puff piece” to promote a future sale to overseas investors of some shares in ARAMCO?? In a related article [apologies, I can’t find it] journalists said: these are huge reserves; this would be a profitable investment; electric car sales have been low, so demand for oil looks like it will stay high for a few decades; but demand may decline in the future, such that the Saudis will leave some of their oil unextracted.

    They conclude that the “scare” about Saudi Arabia approaching peak oil seems unwarranted with these new figures.

    Apparently
    1) an independent audit is unprecedented
    2) the production cost is usually kept secret

  93. Brian (Re: JANUARY 15, 2019 AT 6:26 PM)

    There is rather too much to respond to, but GM, you do become abrasive and a bit rude at times.

    Brian, you’ve obviously singled me out, but appear to be ignoring others that I would say are more abrasive, rude and resort to personal attacks to distract and avoid responding to the arguments and claims in question. It seems to me these people are a protected species here on your blog.

    If the future of life on earth is at stake, the tolerable cost in dollars is what it is and may be quite high. That may or may not alter what we do and how we do it.

    Brian, how do you know it will be a “tolerable cost in dollars”? What’s your evidence? I don’t think anyone knows whether it will be a “tolerable cost in dollars”, or not. I think you are engaging in baseless wishful thinking. I’m telling you what I think without the ‘sugar coating’ – is that rude?

    Instead of dealing in baseless assumptions and wishful thinking, it would be much more productive to utilise evidence/data and sound analysis and reasoning derived from the available evidence/data. Would you agree. Brian? You are excellent at sourcing available evidence/data and have been doing so for a considerable period.

    We need to imagine a world where the use of fossil fuels is verboten, and then think of the most economic and environmentally friendly way of producing energy.

    As you well know, the ‘clock is ticking’, meaning global carbon emissions need to be net zero by 2050 (but the sooner, the better) – that’s the primary goal. That means zero-carbon emissions technologies that are affordable and available now and can be deployed at scale quickly now, should be deployed ASAP. But the evidence I now see indicates that so-called “hydro-carbon electro-fuels” are not one of these technologies that can be deployed at scale now or soon. From the European Commission’s Scientific Opinion: Novel Carbon Capture and Utilisation Technologies, in Section 5.8 Novel CCU Technologies it includes (bold text my emphasis):

    CCU technologies face today a range of technical, environmental and economic challenges and research in novel technologies can overcome some of these challenges. Technology improvements to increase efficiency, to reduce energy and materials consumption and to prove the technologies at large scale and in different settings are needed.

    And further along:

    The quality and quantity of CO2 could also be a challenge. CO2 needs to be captured, concentrated and purified before it can be used at least for some of the processes. This can be energy intensive and costly. However, certain industrial processes offer nearly pure CO2 and some conversion technologies can use the flue gases without much purification or concentration. The volumes of available CO2 may not match the needs of utilisation unless clusters of capture, utilisation and storage are developed.

    Large scale uses of CO2, for example to manufacture fuels and commodity chemicals, will require significant amounts of green hydrogen. For uses that do not involve hydrogen, such as manufacturing polymers, mineral carbonates, and novel materials, the scale of CO2 used is smaller but offer a higher value. As an example it is possible to convert CO2 from the air into carbon nanofibers by using an efficient, low cost electrochemical process.

    So far, the evidence I see indicates there are too many ifs, buts and maybes to declare so-called “hydro-carbon electro-fuels” (i.e. “renewable methanol, gasoline and diesel”) as “transport game changers”, and “as simple as replacing fossil fuels with renewable fuels”. That was the claim being made by John D – I challenged it – John D couldn’t back-up his claim because there was no evidence to support it, only his apparent baseless assumptions. So, I’m called “abrasive and a bit rude at times” for calling out and now IMO proving a false claim.

    I read it but can’t find it now, but I’m sure you said you ‘suspect’ he’s wrong. You don’t know you suspect. You are entitled to that opinion, and I won’t call you a hand waver if you don’t have data to prove it.

    Unless you can find compelling data to convincingly contradict the evidence I’ve referred to, then I’m going with the European Commission’s Scientific Opinion. In time, the accumulating evidence may (and I stress the word may) change the verdict, or it may not. Until then, “hydro-carbon electro-fuels” cannot be relied upon as “transport game changers” – evidence to date indicates that’s a false hope now and in the foreseeable future, and as I said earlier: the clock’s ticking. Like fusion reactors, it doesn’t mean that research on CCU stops – it just means you can’t count on it now or soon to ‘save the day’. Now that realisation may perhaps be a real bummer to some of you, but we need to deal in the possible that’s available today.

    I’m telling it as I see it without the ‘sugar coating’. It seems to me all of you here want to be deluded into thinking all the engineering solutions are ‘hunky dory’ and it’s just those bad roadblocking politicians and vested interests getting in the way of our salvation. Mitigation of the climate change and energy security challenges are most certainly not that simple – they are without a shadow of a doubt the twin most challenging problems facing humanity.

  94. John Davidson (Re: JANUARY 15, 2019 AT 11:20 PM)

    GM: The attraction of e-fuels made using renewable electricity is that their production and use cycle doesn’t require fossil carbon and, unlike the major sources of biofuels such as grains, sugar cane and palm oil does not require a reduction in our food producing capacity or damage to the wild environment.

    E-fuels may seem attractive to you, but IMO you haven’t done sufficient research to adequately determine it is viable and deployable at scale in all settings now or in the foreseeable future. See my comment to Brian above.

    There isn’t enough landmass on the planet to support both biofuel and food production to meet our current global energy needs – this is due to poor EROI and other issues (e.g. soil fertility).

    You appear to be saying that fossil fuels should only be replaced if the renewable, low impact alternative alternative is cost competitive. (If you are not saying this what are you saying?)

    You are conveniently forgetting global ‘peak oil’ and ‘peak gas’ supply – humanity must leave petroleum oil and fossil natural gas before oil and gas leaves us – this is an inevitable resource depletion problem that can only be solved by finding alternatives or doing without, and there’s the pesky climate change issue. I’ve referred to these issues many times – you apparently have a short memory.

    The alternative technologies replacing/displacing oil and gas need to have reasonable EROI characteristics (without fossil fuel energy subsidy) or they are not long-term sustainable.

    If you don’t like some of the solutions I say may be the answer what are you suggesting?

    It’s not a question of “liking” or “not liking”. Emotion doesn’t come into it. It’s about what technologies are available with reasonable EROI characteristics and rapidly deployable at scale in all settings now.

    Stick with fossil fuels?

    Not possible if humanity accepts dangerous climate change is an existential risk – humanity must leave oil, gas and coal before 2050 (preferably sooner). IMO leaving oil will be the greatest challenge of the three types of fuel as it is the most versatile.

    Batteries are the answer to everything?

    Electrify as much as possible (e.g. trains, trams), rail becomes the dominate mode of long distance land transport, probably includes renewable hydrogen. Sorry, I don’t have all the answers.

    We give up long haul flying?

    IMO, that’s a distinct possibility for the cheap seats. I think only the very rich are likely to continue long haul flying and I think the inflection point is likely to arrive sometime in the 2020s. The cost of fuel/energy will probably make long-distance flying prohibitively expensive for most people. I just don’t see fuel/energy technologies on the horizon that can be deployed at scale (and that are or will be affordable for many) for long haul flying that replace petroleum-based fuels. IMHO, get your long haul flying done soon because I don’t think many will be able to afford to soon. That’s a scary thought for many and most people would probably dismiss it as fanciful given the price of crude oil dropped recently. But the volatility in the price of oil should be a worry. There’s an interesting discussion over at Cassandra’s Legacy weblog about whether global ‘peak diesel’ supply has arrived or not – a possible prelude to global ‘peak oil’ supply.

    All these issues have serious implications for our civilisation that appear to be ignored by governments and business who seem to blithely carry on business as usual.

    I’m calling it as I see it without the ‘sugar coating’. This is serious business that requires an honest evaluation of the risks and the viable solutions that can be deployed at scale in all settings. We all need to wake-up to the critical and urgent challenges looming.

    I see you as someone who is overconfident in their abilities and relies too heavily on baseless assumptions and eschews adequate research for critical data/evidence.

  95. GM:

    I think only the very rich are likely to continue long haul flying and I think the inflection point is likely to arrive sometime in the 2020s. The cost of fuel/energy will probably make long-distance flying prohibitively expensive for most people. I just don’t see fuel/energy technologies on the horizon that can be deployed at scale (and that are or will be affordable for many) for long haul flying that replace petroleum-based fuels.

    And your hard facts to support this sweeping statement?
    When you are being so dismissive of e-fuels it might be worthwhile remembering that the raw materials for their production are air and water only and that renewable power is getting cheaper and cheaper. It is also worth noting that all the processes required for their production and transport are or have been commercially available so we are unlikely to run into technological surprises.
    Justify your claim that none of the above is true?

  96. GM, I can’t keep up with you. Your last two comments run out to over 1500 words. My draft post is at 953 words, and I’ve just started on the hard bit, which of course is the issue of replacement fuels.

    So I’ll let most of the above go through to the keeper.

    I’ve singled you out because you are adopting a needling style, which then becomes hectoring, and is personalised as defects in other commenters.

    For example, when you misunderstood my comment about being lectured you said “none so blind as those who cannot see” (quoted from memory).

    That was quite uncalled for.

    I don’t get emotional or take offence at these things, and I think you are lucky that John D doesn’t either.

    I didn’t appreciate being endlessly told earlier what I should be doing in lobbying politicians. That seems to have disappeared now, so thankyou for that.

    You are at your best when you keep us all up to date and draw our attention to topical information. That is welcome and I’m hoping that continues.

    You’ve linked to an EU carbon capture and utilisation report which is new to me, so thankyou and more work for me.

    Now back to this comment:

      If the future of life on earth is at stake, the tolerable cost in dollars is what it is and may be quite high. That may or may not alter what we do and how we do it.

    I’m simply saying that we need to stop using fossil fuels and then make our future without them. How flying air planes fits into that, I don’t know exactly. The initial take looked to me doable, about a 10% increase, but perhaps not for the super budget category, which raises social justice issues.

    A commenter has sent me a link some time ago about the concept of ‘deep adaptation’, which I hope to post on soon.

    Meanwhile David Spratt in a piece I know you would have read The UN chief calls for emergency climate action, but what does that actually mean in practice? reminds us what countries were prepared to spend during WW2:

      Military outlays in 1943 as proportion of total economy were: USA 42%; UK 55%; Germany 70%; and Japan 43%. Japan’s percentage reached about 70% in 1945

    World GDP is about $87.5 trillion.

    James Hansen reckons (p45) on present figures the bill to bring CO2 down to 350 ppm is:

      The result is $104-243 trillion, or $1.3-3.0 trillion/year if the cost is divided uniformly over 80 years.

    World defence spending is $1.7 trillion pa.

    We have choices to make.

  97. I spent all my available time last night writing the above comment, spending a fair bit of time staring at the screen to try to find diplomatic language and say what I meant. Not sure I succeeded 100%.

    GM, you often direct us to material that warns about climate change as an existential threat, especially by Ian Dunlop. I’m questioning whether you’ve taken the full implications of this back into assessments of alternative fuels for flying planes, or offsets. When the folk at the EU were comparing costs, were they adding the unpaid cost of using the atmosphere as a dump? It’s not a few dollars as a dump fee we are talking about, it’s life on earth. What price do you put on human life? That is what ‘existential threat’ means. Beyond human life, how do you turn the cost of what is shaping as the sixth great extinction event into an impost of dollars to be added to the fuel used by air planes?

    So far I haven’t seen any evidence of these costs being brought into the equation. If they are not, then it’s more than sugar coating, It’s a failure to appreciate what the problem actually is.

    All that is bad enough, but there seems to be another strange assumption that scalability is inherently difficult:

      The volumes of available CO2 may not match the needs of utilisation unless clusters of capture, utilisation and storage are developed.

    They are talking about flue gases as a source of CO2.

    John D is talking about air and water, combined with sources of cheap renewable power.

    Different ball game. I would have thought that scaling would make the process cheaper, but I’m not an engineer.

  98. Referring back to the ARAMCO news item, may I move into the vernacular for a few lines?
    1. That’s a lot of oil, so
    2. That would be heaps of carbon emissions, but
    3. They reckon there’s a quid or two to be made, even if
    4. Ultimately the whole reserve may never be extracted.

    The folk praising the estimated reserves of around 260 billion barrels of oil
    5. Reckon electric vehicles have not yet made a dent in oil demand, and
    6. A planning horizon of 20 to 30 years is OK for massive further hydrocarbon fuels infrastructure investment, because
    7. Hey, there are big profits to harvest, and
    8. (implied) no IPCC or green-tinged government will get in our way.

    I find this very sad, to put it mildly.
    One of the few positives, is to see clearly which corporations still see massive oil extraction as being in their financial interests.

    And yes, Brian: they are using the atmosphere (chiefly) and also the seas and land as a waste dump.

    Hasta la vista,
    Senor A

  99. John Davidson (Re: JANUARY 16, 2019 AT 9:13 PM)

    And your hard facts to support this sweeping statement?

    See my presentation to Andrew Gee as part of my correspondence to the Australian Senate inquiry into the governance and operation of the NAIF, particularly Slides #16 – 18 that include references to IMO credible sources.

    Shale Reality Check: Drilling into the U.S. Government’s Rosy Projections for Shale Gas & Tight Oil Production Through 2050, by j. David Hughes, Post Carbon Institute, Feb 2018

    The US is the world’s largest oil producer now (due primarily to increases in unconventional oil production over more than a decade) but Shale Reality Check indicates this is unlikely to last for much longer. When US shale oil production declines (as it inevitably will) then it’s likely global oil production will decline with it – most of the cheap and easy oil is now gone.

    Did you read the Cassandra’s Legacy blog link in my previous comment? Apparently not.

    With petroleum oil supplies likely peaking soon (i.e. 2020s) and with no readily available replacement available (e-fuels are not ready to deploy at scale anytime soon) to fill the supply gap then fuel supplies will become scarce and expensive. Expensive aircraft fuels mean expensive airfares.

    When you are being so dismissive of e-fuels it might be worthwhile remembering that the raw materials for their production are air and water only and that renewable power is getting cheaper and cheaper. It is also worth noting that all the processes required for their production and transport are or have been commercially available so we are unlikely to run into technological surprises.

    I’m being dismissive of hydro-carbon electro-fuels because of the European Commission’s Scientific Opinion. Have you actually read it, John? I’ve highlighted some statements from it in my comment to Brian above, and repeated again some below:

    CCU technologies face today a range of technical, environmental and economic challenges…

    …to prove the technologies at large scale and in different settings are needed.

    It seems to me you don’t want to read this because it’s inconvenient to your narrative.

    Justify your claim that none of the above is true?

    I’m following the evidence where-ever it takes me. You appear to make baseless assumptions and engage in wishful thinking and apparently avoid looking at inconvenient evidence/data.

  100. Brian (Re: JANUARY 17, 2019 AT 10:05 AM)

    They are talking about flue gases as a source of CO2.

    That’s one source that can be concentrated and relatively pure, but there’s a mismatch in quantities of available flue gases compared with a projected demand for production of e-fuels, of orders of magnitude. Flue gas sources are cheaper and less energy intense to capture.

    John D is talking about air and water, combined with sources of cheap renewable power.

    But that is more energy intensive to do, as the Scientific Opinion states (and I repeat again):

    The quality and quantity of CO2 could also be a challenge. CO2 needs to be captured, concentrated and purified before it can be used at least for some of the processes. This can be energy intensive and costly.

    How much more intensive? – It doesn’t say. But don’t assume it’s insignificant – I’m sure you like to.

  101. GM: Your answers above were interesting and cut to the core of what I am complaining with respect to your answers.
    Firstly there is the demand that I read a raft of links you have supplied. I actually want to do more with my life than spend it reading endless references that may or may not support what you are claiming.
    Then there is

    I’m being dismissive of hydro-carbon electro-fuels because of the European Commission’s Scientific Opinion.

    It would be nice if you summarized the basis of this opinion instead of suggesting my disinclination to read yet another GM link. For example:
    1 What assumptions did they make about the processes to be used to make electro fuels?
    2. If price was an issue what were they comparing it to, how big was the difference and how much effect would it have on the price of airfares?
    I am afraid that I enjoy thinking and found in my professional life that I was more likely to come up with innovative results if I did the thinking first and left the literature search to near the end to see if there was something better than what I came up with.

  102. – most of the cheap and easy oil is now gone.

    Doubtful, there are a plethora of known sites that exist that haven’t been exploited for one reason or another.
    My Dad rememberers when he was young the claims that there was only 40 years of oil left !!!

    Anyway, your submissions look to be on PDF, just link to that, I’m not going to go deep into a .gov link to find it.

    Or how about creating a inter web spot with all you stuff and link it to your name, like John Davidson has.
    Clever Chap that he is.

  103. GM:

      How much more intensive? – It doesn’t say. But don’t assume it’s insignificant – I’m sure you like to.

    I’m trying hard not to assume anything (limit that to the question at hand).

  104. Brian (Re: JANUARY 17, 2019 AT 12:07 AM)

    I didn’t appreciate being endlessly told earlier what I should be doing in lobbying politicians. That seems to have disappeared now, so thankyou for that.

    I think you exaggerate by using the word “endlessly”. You’ve made clear your position, so there’s no point in me pursuing the issue.

    I’m simply saying that we need to stop using fossil fuels and then make our future without them. How flying air planes fits into that, I don’t know exactly. The initial take looked to me doable, about a 10% increase, but perhaps not for the super budget category, which raises social justice issues.

    I see two critical reasons to stop using fossil fuels:
    1. To mitigate dangerous climate change – humanity must leave petroleum oil, fossil natural gas, and coal, before 2050 (the sooner the better); and
    2. To mitigate fossil fuel energy resource depletion – humanity must leave petroleum oil and fossil natural gas before global oil and gas productions begin sustained declines (both probably beginning in the 2020s, likely triggered by declines of US tight oil and shale gas productions).

    Aircraft currently require hydrocarbon fuels, predominantly sourced from petroleum-based fuels for propulsion. Some trials of blended petroleum/biofuel aircraft fuels are currently being conducted (e.g. Qantas long-haul flights between LAX and MEL) – It will be interesting to see the results – I suspect the trials will show aviation biofuels (blended or unmixed) are not viable at large scale due to poor EROI, but we will see. As for hydro-carbon e-fuels, I would suggest you read the European Commission’s Scientific Opinion – it indicates to me this technology still has a “range of technical, environmental and economic challenges”.

    The evidence I see indicates the prospects for aviation, particularly long-haul, has a bleak future – declining petroleum-based aviation fuels (likely in the 2020s) with no large-scale replacement fuel (or other energy propulsion system) alternatives on the horizon.

    Meanwhile David Spratt in a piece I know you would have read The UN chief calls for emergency climate action, but what does that actually mean in practice? reminds us what countries were prepared to spend during WW2:

    My take:
    1. Deploy the solutions that are available at large-scale now ASAP to at least rapidly reduce our emissions from current levels – new renewables with ‘firming’ are now decisively cheaper than new nuclear, gas and coal electricity generation technologies so there’s now a powerful economic argument, electrify as much as possible, rail becomes the dominant mode of long-distance land travel, battery-electric vehicles for shorter range travel and perhaps hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles for longer range, etc. Effective planning is essential, but so is urgency in actioning the tasks required.
    2. Continue to work on the difficult areas but do EROI analysis to weed-out poor prospects and concentrate on the more promising technologies. Problem areas: agriculture/food production, transport (particularly aviation), some industrial processes – so little time left to make a substantial start to transition away from oil and gas usage before global oil and gas supplies inevitably begin sustained declines due to resource depletion.

    We have choices to make.

    We do, but humanity appears to be not making the correct ones so far, and the available options that are likely to minimize major disruptions to our civilization are diminishing with time.

  105. John Davidson (Re: JANUARY 17, 2019 AT 2:26 PM)

    Firstly there is the demand that I read a raft of links you have supplied.

    You asked me for “your hard facts to support this sweeping statement“, and I provided some information to support my statement. I responded to your “demands” and now you don’t want to do any work – all one-sided.

    I actually want to do more with my life than spend it reading endless references that may or may not support what you are claiming.

    And there’s the nub of your apparent problem: you don’t want to do any work. Just read a few articles about “hydro-carbon electro-fuel” technology that provide scant details about the “range of technical, environmental and economic challenges” and leap to the false conclusion that this will save us all.

    And when I ask you for evidence to support your claims that so-called “hydro-carbon electro-fuels” are “transport game changers”, and “as simple as replacing fossil fuels with renewable fuels” you throw insults back at me rather than providing the basis for your claims. I suspect the insults are to distract from the fact your “evidence” doesn’t exist – just baseless assumptions and wishful thinking.

    Who are you John D? What’s your technical expertise to be able to competently assess whether “hydro-carbon electro-fuels” are viable or not?

    I look at the group of scientific advisors that produced the European Commission’s Scientific Opinion and I recognize Sir Paul Nurse (former President of The Royal Society, and current Chief Executive and Director of the Francis Crick Institute, and he was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Leland Hartwell and Tim Hunt for their discoveries of protein molecules that control the division of cells in the cell cycle) among them. The group have initiated expert workshops, sought stakeholder submissions and held ad hoc meetings and consultations with people in the industry. The Scientific Opinion has been endorse by all members of the group.

    What have you done John D to look at the available evidence and data?

    I’d take the European Commission’s group of scientific advisors scientific advice on the viability of CCU over your “advice” any day.

    I am afraid that I enjoy thinking and found in my professional life that I was more likely to come up with innovative results if I did the thinking first and left the literature search to near the end to see if there was something better than what I came up with.

    This suggests to me you think you are better than everyone else.

  106. The reported Saudi oil reserves seem to have negated the idea of “peak oil”., at least for the next several decades.

    But I agree with GM tbat Australia needs to increase its petroleum stockpiles. And apparently other nations are pressing our Govt on this.

    Cheers

  107. GM

    I think a few folk are trying to suggest reasonable blog etiquette and politeness are useful.

    But perhaps I’m mistaken?

  108. My couple of riyals worth is this: the humans need to reduce rapidly our burning of fossil fuels, regardless of whether the fossil hydrocarbons are likely to run out or not!!

  109. Cheers Ambi, that would be my suggestions too, and thanks for gingerly offering your hand to Geoff Miell.

    Like Brian, I appreciate the topics and relevant links GM has brought to C+, as well as some discussions he initiated are real gems. I can handle the rude/abrasiveness or needling, as Brian describes it, as long he and any others so engage in can handle it equally when the favour is returned. You can not always ask these people to turn it down. It often helps when they have to face their own music, some are quicker and some slower in recognising the social benefits of mutual respect and civility. So if you think I am not treating you fairly, please have a look at your own conduct before accusing me of anything. Not that I have and can fail in that department, but I think most of you know that I have a chronic illness with often associated pain. So my sincere apologies for being a pain sometimes without cause.

    However, Geoff my main grief are your lengthy and often ill structured comments, dispersed with personal stuff. These habits are most distracting from the very good points you make. I wonder if you have read Brians Comments Policy , it reads:

    Be as brief as possible. Three paragraphs is not a definite limit, but is a useful guideline. You always have the option of setting up your own blog and linking to longer expositions there.

    Don’t hog the space. Allow room for other people to have a say. Stay on topic. If you have something else to say, take it to an open thread. Thread domination and thread derailment are not good netiquette.

  110. This suggests to me you think you are better than everyone else.

    GM, I know John. That is the last thing he would think. So you are wrong, wrong, do you hear me? You might contemplate how you got that wrong.

    Last night I spent most of my screen time reading, including the EU report. GM, you picked out the critical passages, but gave us nothing of the context. In this case context turns out to be critical. I’ll explain in the post.

    Been to the doctor today – routine visit – have to go out and work in the blazing heat now. Next post, when it’s done will be the air flying one. I’m going with the information I’ve got, as I’d like to move on.

  111. BTW, I’m developing a bit of an aversion personally to using bold, but don’t let me deter anyone else.

  112. While energy and related CC is a major component the whole equation of sustainable humanity, there are other components which are of equall if not more. For example, you could put a good argument that without investment there is no energy, renewable or not. Economy and energy are intrinsically connected. You could also argue that global economic situation is almost on a similar critical point as energy with peak fossils.

    Indeed my argument is, Peak Economy may occur earlier than Peak Fossil or the innovation and implementation of new technological solutions. And such an occurrence could be a major game changer too. I have a bundle of supporting documents and links but no time atm, maybe after the weekend. In any case every aspect of energy has to be looked through its place in the economy and implications thereof.

    Indeed, challenging times ahead.

  113. GM:

    Who are you John D? What’s your technical expertise to be able to competently assess whether “hydro-carbon electro-fuels” are viable or not?

    I am a retired chemical engineer who has spent most of his working life in the large scale mining and construction industry. This has included about 8 yrs working in a major company research lab, 20 yrs living and working at major mine sites (working in a variety of technical, supervisory and management roles) and 12 years in mineral processing related work in the large scale design and construction industry.
    The construction work included design, commissioning and work on tenders.
    Had a reputation for making millions for my employers because of my lateral mind and an ability to see things that other people didn’t see. Helped with operations, design and trouble shooting.
    Does this allow me to “competently assess whether “hydro-carbon electro-fuels” are viable or not?” I have neither the expertise or resources to determine whether electro fuels could compete with fossil fuels. (The tenders I worked on cost several hundred thousand dollars and required various types of expertise, company tender preparation systems and a costing data base.)
    On the other hand I do have the expertise to say that a process that involves not much than linking together existing processes will be technically feasible and have costs that will be acceptable in a world where the use fossil carbon or high impact bio-fuels will not be acceptable.
    As a matter of interest what expertise do you have to support the statements you are making?

  114. Jumpy (Re: JANUARY 17, 2019 AT 7:44 PM)

    Doubtful, there are a plethora of known sites that exist that haven’t been exploited for one reason or another.

    Where are these “plethora of known sites that exist that haven’t been exploited for one reason or another”, Jumpy? Please name them, and provide details of these reserve sizes, and maximum expected flow rates. Or are you just making a statement you have no way of backing up?

    BP Statistical Review of World Energy provides annual updates of crude oil reserve estimates and Reserves-to-Production (R/P) estimates, country-by-country, region-by-region, and globally. The International Energy Agency (IEA) also provides regular updates. Then there’s the US DoE Energy Information Administration (EIA) and other organisations that keep track of energy stats.

    My Dad rememberers when he was young the claims that there was only 40 years of oil left !!!

    BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018, on page 13, shows the history of R/Ps from 1987 to 2017 for the World, and regions: North America, South & Central America, Europe, CIS, Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific. World R/P in 2017 was at 50.2 years (steadily declining since about 2010).

    Fossil and Nuclear Fuels – the Supply Outlook, by Dr Werner Zittel et. al., published by the Energy Watch Group, Mar 2013, shows on page 26 in Figure 6: World oil supply from individual countries, that various countries (and regions) have passed peak production. Post-peak countries/regions (and year of peaking) include:

    Austria (1955), Germany (1965), Venezuela-SOO (1968), USA-lower 48 states conventional (1970), Canada-conventional (1974), Romania (1976), Indonesia (1977), USA-Alaska conventional (1989), Egypt (1993), Venezuela-conventional (1993), India (1995), Syria (1995), Argentina (1996), Gabon (1997), Malaysia (1997), Colombia (1999), Ecuador (1999), UK (1999), Australia (2000), Oman (2001), Norway (2001), Yemen (2001), Denmark (2004), Equatorial Guinea (2004), Mexico (2004), Nigeria (2005), Chad (2005), Algeria (2007), Iran (2008), Angola (2008), Libya (2008), USA-Gulf of Mexico (2010).

    From BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018:
    • Oil producing countries that appear to be at peak include Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, Thailand, and China.
    • Oil producing countries that appear to be pre-peak (i.e. still increasing) include Brazil, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Canada-tar sands, Venezuela-heavy oil, USA-tight oil & NGLs.

    Many oil producing countries have already passed peak production. More post-peak oil producing countries must be compensated by ever fewer pre-peak countries. The inevitable global oil production peak is likely to arrive soon (i.e. 2020s), probably triggered by USA tight oil & NGLs production beginning declines.

  115. John Davidson (Re: JANUARY 18, 2019 AT 3:22 PM)

    Does this allow me to “competently assess whether “hydro-carbon electro-fuels” are viable or not?” I have neither the expertise or resources to determine whether electro fuels could compete with fossil fuels.

    And yet you made the claim that so-called “hydro-carbon electro-fuels” are “transport game changers”, and “as simple as replacing fossil fuels with renewable fuels”. When challenged you threw back insults at me rather than admit your claims are baseless.

    On the other hand I do have the expertise to say that a process that involves not much than linking together existing processes will be technically feasible and have costs that will be acceptable in a world where the use fossil carbon or high impact bio-fuels will not be acceptable.

    You just said earlier you don’t have the expertise. Even now with the European Commission’s Scientific Opinion available to you which says that CCU has a “range of technical, environmental and economic challenges” you continue to say it “will be technically feasible and have costs that will be acceptable“. You don’t know that – it’s all baseless wishful thinking. In other words I think you are implying you know better than the European Commission’s group of scientific advisors, and unlike the group of scientific advisors, not doing any critical evidence and data collection and analysis – wow, what supreme hubris!

    As a matter of interest what expertise do you have to support the statements you are making?

    As I said before: I’m following the evidence where-ever it takes me. All my statements are derived from evidence and data collected from IMO reliable sources. But you don’t seem to want to look at them when I offer to link to them – that’s your prerogative; I can’t force you to – but your the one not informed.

  116. Ootz (Re: JANUARY 18, 2019 AT 2:43 PM)

    However, Geoff my main grief are your lengthy and often ill structured comments, dispersed with personal stuff. These habits are most distracting from the very good points you make.

    Well, if it bothers you that much, then perhaps you could skip it. But then you may miss something important.

    I’m putting up what I think is important. I can’t read minds.

  117. FF sake Geoff, can you turn down these tedious personal crusades of yours! You made your point, not a major point nor relevant wrt JD! There will be peak oil, yes. There will be a major reckoning, yes. Your focus on a particular aspect is just a fragment of the whole picture and how relevant we will see. For example if the global economy tanks, all your points become moot, can’t you see the bigger picture? Do you have to steep down to harass people and constantly question the integrity of everyone. What about you mate?

    So what is it about? Can’t you handle the high temperatures at the moment, or is the risk of a doomed humanity too much of an existential burden? You seem to be extremely agitated and hell bent for us to act with urgency. What makes you to ASSUME we are NOT doing our own thing in many different ways apart from hanging around Brians blog?

  118. GM: You seem to be chronically incapable of understanding the concept of levels and areas of expertise. For example, you don’t seem to be able to understand at all when I say I have the expertise to do X but don’t have the expertise and/or resources to do Y.
    You also say that:

    As I said before: I’m following the evidence where-ever it takes me. All my statements are derived from evidence and data collected from IMO reliable sources.

    Is this code for saying that you lack relevant expertise?
    You also seem to be unable to grasp the very basic idea that if you have a process for converting renewable electricity into hydrogen and link this to an established processes for converting hydrogen to ammonia or methanol and an established processes for converting ammonia to hydrogen or methanol to hydrocarbon fuels such as jet A (or petrol or….) you can easily put together an overall process that produces renewable hydrogen, ammonia, etc.)
    I described e-fuels as game changers because they allow the switch to fossil carbon free transport fuels without major changes to vehicles. (Relatively easy adjustments are reuired.)

  119. As to your above comment to me, have you read Brians Comment Policy yet? Have you asked your why he asks people to be brief and succinct?

    I am bothered about your lengthy and rambling comments because they take a lot of time to unravel and make sense of what you are on about and to discern its relevance , only to discover a repeat of a previous particular sermon interspersed with personal stuff. I am bothered because I know you can do better and have much too offer. Please consider that quality comes before quantity.

    Sorry to be so blunt but you asked me before what my point is.

  120. This is an awesome thread, GM is trolling the shit out of everybody and winning every time with blog tactics.

    Very entertaining.

    Don’t mind me, carry on 🙂

  121. My problem is I can’t finish writing my post until I update myself on the thread in case something new and important has been said.

    GM you said “I can’t read minds.”

    I think you may have put your finger on what the problem is around here, right there.

    I’m reading a book on the origins of language at present. The author goes into great length to show that we have our big brains exactly so that we can read other people’s minds.

    Remember Dunbar’s number?

    The author reckons that homo erectus had language and lived in villages in bands of about 50 members. He says that sapiens expanded that to 150 members, which raises exponentially the connections and relationships within the group. This required a huge investment in our brains, which is the largest by some measure in relation to body size. The power of co-operation within the larger group then allowed us to think and work strategically and intentionally, to make us as rather puny and vulnerable creatures the ace predators and pretty much invincible until we ran into the limits of the planet.

    Any way, I told my wife what was happening here. She said “Asperger’s syndrome” otherwise known as “high-functioning, autism spectrum disorder”:

      Asperger syndrome does not impact cognitive abilities. Instead, it interferes with a person’s ability to empathize, recognize social cues and resist engaging in stereotypical behavior. In fact, those with Asperger’s often have high IQs and excel in fields like mathematics, computer science, linguistics, and music. As someone with Asperger’s reaches their 20s and 30s, behavioral abnormalities may lessen, including social anxiety and verbosity.

    My wife as an early childhood teacher taught some, but also knows of some who were not diagnosed until they were in their 40s.

    The words “disorder” and “diagnose” are problematic, because it’s part of the normal spectrum, just one end of the bell-shaped curve in which human characteristics are distributed. However, we see a pattern of difference, apply some descriptors, and then the language used may contain values and judgements.

    Please, I’m just sharing reflections on what my wife said. What would she know?

  122. Brian

    I have been assisting three young persons, from late primary school to late high school; on the spectrum; Functioning Aspbergers persons.

    Exceptionally talented at mathematics. One, you would never guess: sociable, tactful, well-rounded. Another, highly eccentric. The third, has learnt to pick up many social cues, and you might say now is a “super nerd”.

    What would I know?
    (The school had to tell me about the young persons’ characteristics before we began, and I did a little reading about “the spectrum”.) But what would they know? Only saw the young people six hours a day during school terms.

    ***
    On pressing social issues, if I can cast my mind back to the 1950s and 1960s, I was terrified about the risks and likelihood of global nuclear war. D*mn dangerous. Cold War confrontation. Atmospheric testing, fallout, ICBMs, nuclear armed subs, nuclear armed long range bombers.

    On The Beach (novel, film set in Melbourne)
    Dr Strangelove ( black comedy film, set mostly in Washington DC)
    The War Game ( set in the UK, shot in documentary style; commissioned by the BBC then banned for twenty years)

    I was worried sick. Politicians didn’t seem to be taking action to remove the risk (though eventually some moves were made: the Hotline, etc.)

    If there had been blogs, likely I would have been on there, hammering away at my theme of devastation and doom. And perhaps a pre-Jumpy might have found it entertaining…..

    But who knows?

    I don’t draw conclusions from the above, it’s merely anecdotal; and as GM points out, I am skilled at avoiding difficult questions. But on a personal note, I can say that a youth and young adulthood immersed in fear is not pleasant.

    My guess is, I’m somewhere on that Aspie spectrum, too.

    Cheers

  123. Ambigulous (Re: JANUARY 18, 2019 AT 12:03 PM)

    The reported Saudi oil reserves seem to have negated the idea of “peak oil”., at least for the next several decades

    Per BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018, on page 12, in 2017, Saudi Arabia had an estimated total proved reserve of 266.2 thousand million barrels of crude oil and Reserves-to-Production (R/P) of 61.0 years. On page 14, it shows Saudi Arabia oil production around 12 million barrels per day over the last three years (2015 – 17), suggesting it may be at peak production and at risk of beginning a decline soon (but peaking cannot be confirmed until a decline trend in production is evident over a few years).

    Just looking at the R/P can lull people into a false sense of security – there’s more to the story.

    In Fossil and Nuclear Fuels – the Supply Outlook (Mar 2013), from page 33 to 37, there’s a discussion about Saudi Arabia’s capacity to act as a “swing producer” to provide additional barrels whenever needed. On page 34, it includes (bold text my emphasis):

    Though 265 Gb of reserves are reported which remained almost unchanged over the last two decades, the reserve situation of Saudi Aramco is not as comfortable as these numbers might suggest. These numbers are highly questionable. Constant remaining reserves over twenty years of production would require that in total 75 Gb should have been added to the reserves in order to compensate for the cumulative production of 75 Gb from reserves. However, there were no discoveries during that period which could have been added to reserves. Therefore, a major uncertainty about the future of Saudi Arabia’s oil production is the uncertainty of reserves estimates.

    The idea that Saudi Arabia’s reported oil reserves “seem to have negated the idea of ‘peak oil’, at least for the next several decades” is highly questionable.

    But I agree with GM tbat Australia needs to increase its petroleum stockpiles. And apparently other nations are pressing our Govt on this.

    The trilemma I see is this: Do we spend billions of dollars on additional fuel storage when it’s likely global ‘peak oil’ supply will arrive soon, and you may not have adequate additional fuel supplies to fill this additional storage with, or not put more storage in and ‘bet’ that there won’t be fuel supply disruptions? The alternative strategy is to roll-out alternative transport energy options to reduce demand for petroleum fuels, like battery-electric and hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles. Or perhaps hedge your bets with some additional storage plus alternative transport energy options? I think doing nothing is the riskiest option.

    See SMH article headlined Declining fuel reserves prompts Turnbull government security review, dated May 6.

    The other question is who pays for this? The taxpayer? The market/consumers?

  124. Brian (Re: JANUARY 18, 2019 AT 11:43 PM)

    GM you said “I can’t read minds.”

    I think you may have put your finger on what the problem is around here, right there.

    Brian, are you saying you can read minds? Is your “talent” being wasted?

    It seems to me you all appear to be threatened by my challenging of some of your comments and assertions.

    When some commenters on this blog are challenged by me to back-up their assertions they resort to insults to attempt to deflect attention away from their own inadequacies on being ill-informed on certain subjects. I get called “you do become abrasive and a bit rude at times” – is it any wonder when others on your blog are rude and throw insults at me? It’s something you, Brian, seem to ignore. I get accused of making “demands” when I ask only questions, and yet when you ask questions for me it’s expected I must answer – it appears to be a double standard.

    I see comments on this blog that I know are wrong based on compelling evidence I see, and I challenge these comments. It seems you don’t appreciate this, which suggests to me you don’t value my input. You continue to complain about the length of my comments – the issues are complex and I think need more than a few lines of explanation. I suspect you don’t like your world view shaken by my inputs – it’s to be expected because most people don’t like their world view challenged.

    The danger I see with some of the commenters on this blog is that they may be affected by Dunning–Kruger effect – cannot objectively evaluate their competence or incompetence. That’s something we should all be aware of and constantly avoid succumbing to. A good way to inoculate against D/K is to seek critical evidence/data on the subject, but that requires work. Perhaps that’s something for you all here on this blog to reflect upon.

    The information on this blog is thought provoking and stimulating. Unfortunately, some commenters don’t seem to be able to back-up some of their apparently false assertions with evidence/data or sound reasoning.

  125. Ambi, I think the idea with a spectrum is that we all have it to some extent, which is why the term ‘disorder’ is problematic. To some degree it’s part of the medicalisation of human experience, which Big Pharma in the US has done with intent.

    Manifestations tend to be very individual, I’m told. In what we are experiencing here, leaving aside labels, is an obsession with facts. I’m told that I’m wrong about the urging to lobby politicians. It was not ‘endless’ because it ended. Implying I’m a dill for saying that it was endless when it wasn’t.

    What this overlooks is that at the time, as I experienced it, the urging did seem endless.

    There is a similar problem with the word “game-changer”. Back in 2013 it looked a pretty good call to me, when fossil fuel should be verboten, battery technology looked hopelessly mired in range problems, hydrogen wasn’t talked about much, and public transport was never going to solve all the problems. (On the latter, just think about tradies who buzz around the suburbs in zig-zag patterns, and can’t take their gear on a bus or a train in any case.)

    John saw green synthetic fuels which did not make the existing fleet of vehicles redundant as a game changer in terms of possibilities. Of course we’d have to wait and see how the metrics, including costs, work out, remembering that markets don’t always make the most rational choices, as they didn’t with VHS over Beta. It was an informed opinion about potential for the future, not a researched fact.

    If you look at the EU document GM is quoting, the point is that they are advising where to put research money and/or subsidies. They are actually very positive about carbon capture and utilisation, but think it will take until about 2030-2040 to be realised.

    I’m willing to take a bet that in the 2030s John’s 2013 statement will look to have been on the money, it’s just I mightn’t be here to collect the bet.

    Ambi, on MAD (mutually assured destruction), me too. I didn’t expect to live until I was 60. Just how much that affected me is another story, but I didn’t know at the time that other people were taking it as seriously as I did.

    GM, while I’ve been writing this, you’ve responded to my earlier comment. Can I say, you’ve got me completely wrong. I don’t feel the slightest bit threatened. Not the slightest!

    Yes, some people have been what looks like rude to you, and there is a fair bit of frustration on show, I think. I singled you out because of degree. In particular some comments you made would, in normal social discourse, require an apology. I haven’t asked for one, nor has John D. I can’t speak for him, but I can assure you that I’m not wasting any emotion on what is happening here. Just time.

    Again your interpretation of “reading” minds is literal. Every one knows the literal reading of minds is impossible. I was riffing off your phrase in order to talk about how humans need big brains to understand how other people habitually react, what their feelings and motives are and what they mean when they are using metaphoric language.

    You seem to have some difficulty in this regard.

    We are the only animal that can store all the past perceptions in memory, create future scenarios in our minds, think of alternative strategies and responses, make judgements between them and act accordingly, which is what I’m taliking about when I say we ‘read’ minds.

    It seems you routinely misread people. Your life is your own project, so I was suggesting you ask yourself why. I’m aware that nothing will change with you while you see everyone else as the problem.

    Do you get positive reactions when you make politicians and policy makers aware of their deficiencies? If not, is there an issue with how you communicate with them?

    Just wondering.

    BTW, I don’t recall complaining about the length of your comments. Not while I was making long comments myself.

    Finally, I was concerned that every time John D put his head above the parapets he drew a hail of machine gun fire. Under those circumstances a commenter might say, Bugger it, I’ve had enough, I’ll not put my head up there to be shot at any more.

    John has been patient, not shown any emotion, and continued to explain. I admire that and thank him for it.

  126. Brian

    I should have mentioned the full title of the brilliant film: Dr Strangelove, or How I Learnt to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

    ☆☆☆

    Geoff

    Just on “peak oil” for a moment… I was surprised to see the journalists a few days ago write that the Saudi reserves were so large, that as total world oil consumption dropped in future decades, it may be that some Saudi oil would never be extracted.

    I agree with you that figures for reserves must be treated as rough estimates; the fact that the quoted reserves remained steady during large volume extraction was strange, to say the least….. cause for suspicion, perhaps?

    I will try to find the first article I saw, and link to it. At least then you’ll be able to check their assumptions.

    By the way, how can we be sure there have been no further Saudi oil discoveries? Geology well known? Saudis not trying??

  127. Brian: Thanks for saying

    I’m willing to take a bet that in the 2030s John’s 2013 statement will look to have been on the money, it’s just I mightn’t be here to collect the bet.

    Sometimes I have been right in the past. You might remember when I first met you I was talking about using competitive tendering for driving investment in renewable power at a time when most of the talk was about using a carbon price as the driver. Now days competitive tendering in the form of renewable energy auctions is a significant driver and much of the other investment comes in the form of conventional contracts. The main difference in my current thinking on this topic is that the contracts for the production or storage should be largely paying for capacity and standby status with a relatively small amount for the actual power produced. (The low actual power price would encourage smart ideas for using the excess capacity needed to cover peak demand. May be relevant for producing e-fuels.)
    If you would like to indulge me a little more you might go back and have a look at using offset credit trading to drive down new car emissions It is still a relevant idea as a way of driving down transport emissions. It might also encourage adaption of another obsession of mine, the switch to cars that are narrow to run two abreast in a normal traffic lane.

  128. Two abreast……
    would there be reserved lanes in which such vehicles could run two abreast? That might work on wide metropolitan roads, John.

    [May I also second Brian’s motion that notes your calmness under fire?]

  129. Ambi: My narrow track assumption is that the vehicle will be one person wide with additional people sitting one behind the other. A standard Brisbane bus that fits in a single lane is 4 seats plus the aisle across. The aisle appeared to be wider than the distance between vehicles in adjacent lanes so a vehicle just wide enough to fit someone on a bus wide seat should be easily able to travel two abreast.
    In 2016 68% of vehicle commutes in Greater Brisbane were made in cars carrying the driver only.
    Not sure about a narrow track high dray but you might find the idea of a weatherproof e-penny farthing attractive

  130. I was as tired as buggery this morning. Clapped out in the hot weather, I think. Had a bit of a camp, drove Mark down to the shops and other stuff.

    Ambi and John D, thanks, I’m going to take a break from this thread until I’ve finished the post, but briefly, John I remember competitive tendering, but had forgotten offset credit trading.

    Ambi, Dr Strangelove, or How I Learnt to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was brilliant, I agree, but that barely does it justice.

    And I’d never trust the Saudis on anything.

  131. Interesting comment from one of my friends who is interested in fuel issues:

    Diesel’s funny stuff. It’s really fussy. It doesn’t like fracked crude (too light) and it doesn’t like heavy crude (too heavy). It likes the stuff in between. Its molecular weight range cannot be obtained by cracking the latter and you can’t mix the light and the heavy together and get a nice “average” viscosity because there is no “average” molecular weight range, just two wide apart viscosities. Okay if you’re a mathematician, no good if you are a petroleum refinery engineer. So, where in the world is your Goldilocks crude, not too heavy, not too light? Well, Texas is good (running out), Saudi Arabia is good (running out), Russia’s good (not running out). After adding Angola and perhaps Nigeria (inconveniently light also), that’s it, folks. We’ve reached Peak Diesel. I suggest that you check the prices at your local petrol station. Is the price of diesel staying up while the price of petrol is falling? Yes, folks, it’s time to weep for all those B-doubles clogging our highways! Seriously folks, no diesel, no national economy.

    Interested in your comments GM.

  132. What does he say about Venezuela oil, they have the biggest known reserves.

    There’s lots of oil under the GBR, is that Goldilocks for diesel?

  133. Went for a walk in the park, and we watched a movie with Mark tonight. He has Netflix and Stan subs, and I can see why you would.

    Walking in the park, I worried about you, Geoff M. I think everyone here wants you here. If there is difference, then difference adds value, provided there is recognition, respect and civility on all sides.

    If I have caused hurt, then I’m sorry.

    In speaking about Asperger’s please understand I’m not seeking to label you, I’m providing information which you may take up if you wish and if you find it appropriate – or not. Your life is your project. I wish you well, and that’s a fact!

  134. Well said, Brian.

    The most important word is spectrum…. as you wrote, all of us may exhibit some of the characteristics, of “Aspbergers” and mostly to such a small degree that no one would be jumping to label us.

    Many of the characteristics can be useful and can be noticeable in high achievers : for instance strong mathematical and logical abilities, single minded focus, diligence, etc. Valuable in an inventor? IT specialist? Statistician? what used to be called a “back room boffin”, and so on.

    Those who study the spectrum write about “high functioning Aspberger persons” for whom the eccentricities are in no way debilitating, and workmates and friends can accommodate the differences

    I look back now on some of my former work colleagues…..

  135. Two things to say.

    First, work on the air industry post is proceeding. I’m steadily chewing my way through, and don’t want it to add to the over 100 unfinished posts in the back room of CP. I’m afraid I’ve just hit 3000 words – nearly there, but a bit to go. I’ve found some really fascinating stuff in those two big reports GM linked to. I never would have seen them without his links, and never would have gotten my head into them without his urging, so I thank him for that.

    Secondly, on Aspergers and such, I think I’ve got a fair bit of it in my personality makeup. I love a good conversation. It’s a Bahnisch family characteristic. When we get onto a topic, an issue, we like to work all the way through it. Even go around a second time. Not everyone likes to do that these days. Casually when I was working in the city I’ve spotted people I know cross the street and look steadfastly ahead rather than risk getting trapped into a conversation. At table settings I like to sit at the end, so that no poor bugger gets stuck with me.

    In the dept of ed I used to strike up conversations with the secretaries of important people I was trying to make contact with. Found out stuff you wouldn’t believe.

    All that sounds a bit worse than it is, I think, but the vast array of medical professionals I regularly see get a bit of a lift when they see my name on the list. They’ve told me so. And occasionally I think they should be paying me, because I tell them stuff they didn’t know. I always like to help, but sometimes that becomes gratuitous. It means I take risks in what I say to people. It doesn’t always work out.

    If GM doesn’t come back, I’ll think it was my fault. I’m actually better at handling difficult interpersonal issues when body language is available. Blog moderation has always been difficult for me when dependent only on the written word.

  136. Clearly, Brian, you love a good conversation.
    The breadth and depth of your knowledge and searching skills are impressive.

    The blog may lack body language cues, but it’s something any of us can visit briefly, or read at length. So none of us needs to “look steadfastly ahead and cross to the other side of the road.”

    We can read your pieces and the comments at our leisure.

    If Jumpy doesn’t come back, could be my fault.
    Not pleasant to feel picked upon.

  137. Ambi, I enjoy sharing information, as well as conversation. But for some people certain kinds of information is not welcome.

  138. If Jumpy doesn’t come back, could be my fault.

    I doubt it.
    I’m the one who most often offends Jumpy’s delicate sensibilities.

    Not pleasant to feel picked upon.

    But a strong, individualist, go-it-alone, self-sufficient libertarian type would laugh it off, surely?
    Or did I misread Ayn Rand.

  139. Almost there with new post. It’s going to be long-form, the equivalent of 7 or 8 short posts, but there are a lot of rabbit holes to run down. I’m hoping to provide a useful resource that covers the main dimensions of the topic for the lay reader.

    Daughter and granddaughter here tonight, so immediate future blogging indefinite.

  140. Brian (Re: JANUARY 18, 2019 AT 11:43 PM)

    Any way, I told my wife what was happening here. She said “Asperger’s syndrome” otherwise known as “high-functioning, autism spectrum disorder”:…

    Further along, you then state:

    My wife as an early childhood teacher taught some, but also knows of some who were not diagnosed until they were in their 40s.

    I thought it best to think about a response to this for a while, instead of being too hasty in reply.

    What are the basic facts that you (or really, it’s your wife) has, to even consider an “assessment” (or “diagnosis”) about my behavioural disposition?

    To the best of my knowledge none of you commenting on this blog, or Brian’s wife for that matter, have met me in person, or seen video or heard audio recordings of me, so there are no visual or aural cues to base an “assessment” upon.

    The only evidence available is the written word attributed by me on this blog and some public submissions by me I’ve linked to.

    Now from what you have stated, Brian, you said you “told your wife what was happening here”, which suggests to me that your wife has not even seen what I’ve written and is basing her “assessment” on what you have “told” her (i.e. hearsay, or is it ‘writesay’?). Is my summation correct, Brian?

    Your wife may well have taught some Asperger’s syndrome children, but I think she is drawing an impossibly long bow on such scant information to be able to fashion any competent assessment (or diagnosis) about me, having never met me, or seen/heard recordings of me, or presumably not even seen what I’ve written, and just relied upon what you have “told” her about me and comparing that with her anecdotal experiences of Asperger’s syndrome children.

    I’ve observed the behaviour of some people that have been clinically diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Now I’m not a trained psychologist or psychiatrist, but I’m quite certain I don’t display the same or similar behavioural traits.

    Please, I’m just sharing reflections on what my wife said. What would she know?

    Indeed, what would she know? Your wife doesn’t know me. Brian, you clearly don’t know me, and to actually mention your wife’s apparent false character assessment of me, based on probably the flimsiest and biased information you’ve derived from this blog, shows to me IMO that you lack sound judgement. What were you thinking, Brian?

    …we see a pattern of difference, apply some descriptors, and then the language used may contain values and judgements.

    It’s so much easier to “label” people with all manner of descriptors (with/without prejudices) that may or may not be accurate/fair, rather than making the effort needed to focus on the substance of what people are expressing.

    IMO your comments are another example of leaping to wrong conclusions with inadequate information. I think this malady that is evident in some comments here on this blog reflects wider society ills. The only way to avoid it is to be better informed with critical information, but that requires effort in acquiring adequate and appropriate knowledge and the skill in competently assessing what’s critical (and germane) and what isn’t.

    Please reflect on that.

  141. John Davidson (Re: JANUARY 19, 2019 AT 5:39 PM)

    The quoted comments from one of your friends “who is interested in fuel issues” doesn’t surprise me, although I think there are a few inaccuracies.

    Diesel’s funny stuff. It’s really fussy. It doesn’t like fracked crude (too light) and it doesn’t like heavy crude (too heavy). It likes the stuff in between.

    From Cassandra’s Legacy weblog post headlined Peak Diesel or no Peak Diesel? The Debate is Ongoing, dated Dec 16, (I’ve referred to this with a link before in my comment above at JANUARY 16, 2019 AT 4:34 PM) that includes:

    Shale oil has changed a lot of things in the oil industry, but it couldn’t avoid the decline of conventional oil. That, in turn, had consequences: shale oil is light oil, not easily converted to the kind of fuel (diesel) which is the most important transportation fuel, nowadays. That seems to have forced the oil industry into converting more and more “heavy” oil into diesel fuel but, even so, diesel fuel is becoming gradually more scarce and more expensive, to the point that its production may have peaked in 2015. In addition, it has created a dearth of heavy oil, the fuel of choice for marine transportation. In short, the famed “peak oil” is arriving not all together, but piecemeal — affecting some kinds of fuels faster than others.

    ‘Fracked’ light tight crude is too light to produce diesel – correct. But heavy crude can be ‘cracked’ in refineries to produce diesel, but that’s putting more demand on heavy oil supplies.

    Well, Texas is good (running out)…

    In Fossil and Nuclear Fuels – the Supply Outlook (Mar 2013), on page 42, Figure 19: Regional disaggregation of Texas oil production since 1993, shows district-by-district oil production since 1993 (to 2012), but doesn’t distinguish between conventional oil and tight (unconventional) oil. Texas conventional oil production is declining. The increases in production in Texas are due to the development of light tight oil assets by means of ‘fracking’.

    The Eagle Ford Play of southern Texas rose from nothing in 2008 to the largest tight oil play in the US, when it peaked in March 2015 and has declined significantly since. See Shale Reality Check (Feb 2018). Tight oil production in the Permian Basin (northwest Texas and southeast New Mexico) is currently pre-peak.

    …Saudi Arabia is good (running out)…

    In 2017, Saudi Arabia had the world’s second largest estimated proved reserves (15.7% global share), with an R/P of 61.0 years, although the magnitude of these reserves is highly questionable (see my earlier comment above at JANUARY 19, 2019 AT 9:45 AM). Saudi Arabia was also the world’s second largest crude oil producer (12.9% global share) and appears to be currently at peak in the range 11.5 to 12.4 million barrels per day (in the period 2012 – 17), with a significant decline likely to begin soon. See also here – the numbers are different and more detailed but are more recent, up to Aug 2018 (using JODI data, instead of BPSRoWE), but the production trends shown appear to be similar (i.e. plateaued).

    …Russia’s good (not running out).

    In 2017, the Russian Federation had the world’s sixth largest estimated proved reserves (6.3% global share), with an R/P of 25.8 years. The Russian Fed was the third largest oil producer (12.2% global share) and appears to be also currently at peak since about 2012, with an expected moderate decline soon.

    After adding Angola and perhaps Nigeria (inconveniently light also)…

    In 2017, Angola represented 1.8% global share of production, and Nigeria at 2.1%. Angola peaked in 2008 and now appears to be in decline. Nigeria peaked in 2005 and is also declining. Most oil producing countries have passed peak (see my earlier comment above at JANUARY 18, 2019 AT 4:07 PM).

    We’ve reached Peak Diesel.

    There are some indications that global ‘peak diesel’ supply may have occurred in 2015 (per JODI data). Other data sets (e.g. BP, EIA, IEA) are less conclusive – the discrepancies appear to be due to different data sources and similar names for different fuel products. If global ‘peak diesel’ supply has arrived, then global ‘peak petrol’ supply won’t be far behind.

    Is the price of diesel staying up while the price of petrol is falling?

    In Australia, it looks like diesel is currently more expensive than petrol. See Australian Institute of Petroleum Terminal Gate Prices for petrol (ULP) and diesel data.

    Seriously folks, no diesel, no national economy.

    Seriously, that’s no joke. Scarce diesel supplies mean higher transport, mining and agricultural costs impacting on the whole economy.

    Alternatives to reduce demand for petroleum fuels need to be deployed rapidly now to minimise economic disruptions. Per the European Commission’s Scientific Opinion CCU fuels are not deployable now or in the foreseeable future at large scale and in all settings as they have a “range of technical, environmental and economic challenges” and “to prove the technologies at large scale and in different settings are needed”.

  142. Yesterday in The Australian, acting energy minister Senator Matt Canavan had an op-ed published (paywalled).

    There’s some commentary on it at RenewEconomy, including:

    In quotes published in The Australian on Monday, acting energy minister Matt Canavan said that the nation’s “fragile electricity system” needed additional supplies of reliable baseload generation, to help meet summer demand and drive down power prices.

  143. Hi GM

    I agree that nobody can make a ‘diagnosis’ without a face-to-face meeting. Even then, with some ‘conditions’ it may be difficult, I imagine.

    I also agree with you that there is a widespread tendency to jump to conclusions on the basis of limited information; though I’m not sure that it’s a recent phenomenon.

    Perhaps it’s wired in to us somehow, because an animal (human) sometimes needs to make a snap judgement… e.g. to avoid a looming predator, or what looked like it may be a predator, oh wait… it was only […..].

    I would like to instance here some examples. Not to excuse snap judgements, mind…. just for discussion.

    a) loyalty to a political party, or cricket team, or AFL team… can cloud judgement

    b) membership of any group can bring with it defensive, protective impulses

    c) it has long been observed that politicians will play on patriotism, or notions of “the fair go”

    d) some ‘statesmen’ will build up an external foe to play on fears

    e) each of us is the child of our own experiences, filtered by our current sets of beliefs

    f) each of us has several “trusted sources” which we tend to rely on; but any of these may be ‘pushing a particular barrow’. For example, the UN favours peace over war and admires UN programs; SIPR is against nuclear weapons; the Minerals Council wants to keep digging; newspapers want to be profitable; super funds want new members; the AMA is ‘the doctors’ union’.

    I’m not claiming that reliable information and productive ideas are impossible to find.

    OK, now I’ll mention one of the most egregious “diagnoses” I ever saw. Dr Sigmund Freud published a book purporting to psychoanalyse the late Signor Leonardo da Vinci. I kid you not.

    Check their dates: Dr Freud cannot have interviewed Sr da Vinci. And yet he built a superstructure of conjecture on the basis of a sketch where the relative positions of two adult womens’ legs was ambiguous [I kid you not], and other bits and pieces.

    I kid you not.

    When I saw that book and discussed it with friends, I began to have doubts about Dr Freud’s seriousness.

    {There’s an apposite paragraph from Mark Twian which I’ll look up too.}

    Cheers

  144. “Narrow track high dray
    Weatherproof e penny farthing”!!!

    Good work, John.

    But down here in Victoria’s domain, some of the blighters are getting upset about peak oats. And the penny may soon be a thing of the past…. several “advanced thinkers” advocate decimated currency, whatever that might be. They talk about dollars and cents, like our American cousins have. Harrumph!! Even young Menzies down at the Club is holding forth about a new coin called “the Royal “. Let’s hope he sticks to the Law and never goes into Parliament! (Sniff.)

    It’s enough to break your bloomin’ braces and snap your side saddles. Deary me. Pass the smelling salts, Maude.

    But what can you expect? Nothing of much quality ever emerged from Jeparit.

  145. Jumpy (Re: JANUARY 19, 2019 AT 6:57 PM)

    What does he say about Venezuela oil, they have the biggest known reserves.

    In 2017, Venezuela (per BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018):
    • Had the world’s largest estimated proved oil reserves, at 303.2 billion barrels (17.9% global share), with R/P of 393.6 years;
    • Produced 2.11 million barrels per day (annualised average), representing 2.3% global share. Production growth rate in 2017 was negative 11.6%, and for period 2006 – 2016 was -3.3% per annum. Venezuela is currently experiencing social and economic upheaval.

    The estimated oil reserve magnitude for Venezuela, and associated R/P number, by themselves does not give any indication regarding the possible future production profile. Venezuelan conventional oil reserves are almost depleted. Only the inclusion of unconventional reserves (e.g. extra heavy oil) helps to increase the reserve number.

    Detailed oil production scenarios rely only partly on reserve data. Other factors including the profile of historical production, the level of related infrastructure present, decline patterns of producing fields and the potential to develop new, yet undeveloped discoveries in a timely manner are much more important.

    From the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2004:

    The reliability and accuracy of reserve estimates is of growing concern for all who are involved in the oil industry.

    It’s perhaps worse now. Huge reserves on paper don’t necessarily imply that they will or can be turned into huge production volumes within the next decade (i.e. 2020s).

    Hypothetically, if Venezuela were to have all the estimated reserves of oil, and it were to have the capacity to grow its oil production to rival say Saudi Arabia’s current production (12.9% global share), then it would need to expand 5.6 times current production. By increasing the rate of production reduces the time to depletion of those reserves – down to about 70 years.

    And then there’s this pesky problem with anthropogenic climate change – humanity must leave petroleum oil (and fossil natural gas and coal) before 2050 to mitigate dangerous climate change. So, most of Venezuela’s remaining oil reserves probably will need to stay in the ground.

    There’s lots of oil under the GBR…

    And where do you get that idea from, Jumpy?

  146. GM

    Given the social and financial turmoil in Venezuela in recent years, it seems unlikely that they could increase their production rapidly in the next few years. Do you agree?

    By the way, that $4 per barrel production cost quoted in the Reuters article on Saudi oil, seems very low. It implies that Saudi oil production would remain profitable under all sorts of scenarios, doesn’t it? That is, if it’s a correct figure. (Brian wrote that he wouldn’t trust the Saudis on anything. )

    ***

    On “GBR oil”, I’ve never heard of it.
    We have well-known oil and gas under Bass Strait, and a shed load under the seabed up near Timor.

    Over to you, Mr Jumpy.

  147. Journal of Marine Science: Research & Development

    Seismic surveys of its geomorphology and oceanographic studies of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) have confirmed that immense oil reserves underlie the Reef basin.

    There’s a phone number there, perhaps passing it on to Geoscience Australia to update their graph.
    Or ring them if you feel the need to argue the versatility of their paper.

  148. Yes Jumpy, your link does mention in passing “immense oil reserves under the reef basin”, but the abstract is specifically about a method of fracking for coal seam gas (CSG).

    While legal prohibitions restrict large scale sediment disturbance which would lead to a decrease in water quality in the GBR Marine Park, direct habitat loss for flora and fauna and alienation of other uses of the Park, the authors have devised and tested a radical nonpolluting CSG fracking and extraction method that conforms to these stringent requirements.

    Not quite the winning argument you seem to think it is.

  149. Zoot, I’m not trying to win anything.
    There’s no competition or prize.
    There IS oil under the GBR, that’s it,.
    Is it suitable for diesel was the the only question asked.

  150. There IS oil under the GBR, that’s it,.

    Saying it in bold doesn’t make it so. Your evidence is not convincing, and I can find no other data that supports your assertion.
    There was much talk five years ago about loosening restrictions on exploring for oil on the GBR, but I found no news of any discoveries – just the statement that geologists ‘reasonably expect’ oil and gas to be present under the reef.
    The Wikipedia article on the GBR only mentions oil in the context of spills. The word ‘oil’ doesn’t appear anywhere on the web site of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
    I realise you characterise it as picking on you when I ask, but do you have any realistic estimate of the reserves under the GBR, their extent and their nature – ie are they shale deposits?
    I’m not picking on you, I’m asking for information which you are apparently privy to and which I can’t find.

  151. GM, thanks for returning to the thread.

    Re your comment, I agree with much of that, except you got me nearly completely wrong again..

    I was sharing a reaction to my story, I thought I made that clear. Where did I say that you, GM, in the flesh, was diagnosed with Asperger’s? I thought I questioned whether ‘diagnosis’ was an appropriate term to be using, and warned about the dangers of labelling.

    Anyway I thought I’d put it out there to see what happened. Now I know.

    But I’d ask you also to reflect about the judgements you’ve made of others. My sister told me once that no-one can judge anyone else unless they have walked a mile in their shoes. Pretty good advice, I thought, so let’s just stick to the arguments and take the personal out of it.

    Ambi, enjoyed your comment. There used to be arguments about who had made the greatest contribution in the last 150 years or so, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, of Dr Freud. I would think Freud is not in the same league, although he started something big.

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